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Armed groups attack capital of Central African Republic in attempt to overthrow election outcome
by Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
 
Jan. 2021
 
Armed groups attack capital of Central African Republic in attempt to overthrow election outcome, report from the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
 
Earlier today, 13 January, a coalition of armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) mounted an attack on the outskirts of the national capital, Bangui. The armed incursion, in the north of the city, was repelled by CAR’s army, with the support of troops from the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA).
 
The attack is the latest in a campaign by a coalition of six armed groups – all of whom are signatories to the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation – to disrupt the 27 December elections in CAR. Some of the groups are allied with former President François Bozizé, who is under UN sanctions and whose candidacy for the election was rejected by the Constitutional Court.
 
According to provisional results of the 27 December general elections, President Faustin-Archange Touadera was reelected with 53 percent of the vote. However, many opposition candidates have requested the election results be annulled, citing irregularities and low turnout. More than half of registered voters could not vote as many polling stations were closed due to pervasive insecurity, including attacks against election officials and candidates, and the deliberate destruction of voting materials. Having failed to prevent the election from taking place, the coalition of armed groups are now likely trying to isolate the capital and influence the final results.
 
Since December the coalition of armed groups has attacked and seized a number of smaller towns on their way towards Bangui. Ahead of election day, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told journalists, “we are deeply alarmed by reports of escalating violence stoked by political grievances and hate speech, resulting in the forced displacement of civilians.” Over 30,000 people have fled to neighboring countries and 62,000 people have been newly displaced in CAR.
 
Armed groups have also disrupted the main trading and supply route to Bangui, depriving civilians of access to essential humanitarian aid and producing food shortages. Hundreds of trucks are stuck in Cameroon’s Douala seaport, which CAR depends upon for over 90 percent of the goods that it imports.
 
Cameroonian authorities also reported that more than 250 foreign workers, the majority of them Chinese, have fled post-election violence and relocated to the border town of Garoua Boulay. The foreign workers claim that they have been threatened by armed groups who told them to leave or be killed.
 
Four UN peacekeepers have also been killed in clashes with armed groups since December. Deliberately killing UN peacekeepers constitutes a war crime under international law.
 
Armed groups that are part of the coalition that attacked Bangui this morning have a history of perpetrating atrocities, including killing civilians, rape, sexual slavery and deliberately destroying civilian infrastructure.
 
The African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States should urgently assist MINUSCA and the CAR government in their attempts to end the ongoing violence. All perpetrators of atrocities and election-related violence in CAR must be held fully accountable for their crimes.
 
http://www.globalr2p.org/countries/central-african-republic/ http://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1082022 http://bit.ly/2KgTO86 http://bit.ly/2XGExR1 http://reliefweb.int/country/caf http://www.msf.org/central-african-republic-msf-ramps-support-amid-violence http://www.nrc.no/news/2021/january/mounting-hostilities-disrupt-aid-delivery-in-the-central-african-republic/


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Starvation is never inevitable - we must act to prevent famine
by Dominic MacSorley
Concern Worldwide
Ireland
 
Jan. 2021
 
As news of famine emerges in several countries, Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Dominic MacSorley calls for immediate action to avoid "catastrophic" consequences for the world's most vulnerable.
 
Starvation is never inevitable. This is a truth that strikes at the core the Irish experience, but we now know that the first famines of the COVID-19 era are already taking place.
 
In a joint statement last month, three UN agencies, including the World Food Programme, warned that 6.5 million people in South Sudan were facing severe food insecurity as a result of flooding, ongoing conflict and the disruptive effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
 
According to the recent Integrated Food Security Analysis, which brings together analysis from NGOs, UN agencies and government officials, parts of the country are now facing a “catastrophic” famine, which means one-in-five households or more lack food, acute malnutrition is greater than 30 per cent, and that starvation and death are already evident.
 
The signs were all there and there have been numerous warnings of surging food insecurity, driven by the phenomenally disruptive effect of COVID-19. The annual United Nations Global Humanitarian Overview, published in December, revealed that a record 235 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance or protection, a near 40 per cent increase on 2020.
 
Tragically, South Sudan is not alone, with Yemen, north east Nigeria and Burkina Faso now also on the verge of famine. In the Sahel region of Africa, the disruptive effect of COVID-19 on people’s livelihoods, food systems and on children’s education has now dramatically exacerbated what is already one of the world’s most complex and rapidly expanding humanitarian crises.
 
According to UNICEF, some 7.2 million children now need humanitarian assistance between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
 
Burkina Faso has descended particularly rapidly from one of the most peaceful states in Africa merely six years ago to a situation where more than a million people have been displaced by conflict and hundreds of thousands are reliant on emergency assistance for their daily survival.
 
Famine should not happen in the modern era- anywhere. It can be prevented, but timing is everything.
 
Three years ago, with four separate regions of the world facing famine, a robust, albeit delayed, humanitarian response involving national and international organisations, UN agencies and governments helped to avert catastrophe. That is not always the case.
 
The severe East African drought of 2011 - which led to the most devastating famines of the 21st century, with over a quarter of a million deaths, mostly in Somalia- could have been prevented if humanitarian access was guaranteed and the response was well-resourced and rapidly scaled up.
 
By the time famine is declared, it is, by definition, too late. Somalia was a horrific lesson in that regard, and the collective failure to prevent a famine at the time gave rise to additional warning systems and humanitarian programme modifications that seek to enable a ‘no-regrets’ approach to emergency nutrition.
 
Almost a decade on however, as the world’s attention is focused on COVID-19, and as access to populations has been further constrained by the pandemic, we are at risk of slipping into catastrophe by delaying a response at the scale that is necessary.
 
The wider issue driving these levels of hunger is conflict itself, something that still supersedes COVID-19 and even climate change in terms of its effect on hunger levels. After decades of progressive decline, global hunger has been rising since 2015 and a global surge in conflict is the main driver of this increase.
 
Ireland has its own deep experience of hunger, unique in Europe, and that history has afforded us an empathy and solidarity with the world’s poorest. And as Ireland begins its term on the United Nations Security Council at a time of global uncertainty and increasing hardship there is an the opportunity to action this national empathy on a global policy level.
 
The passing of UN resolution 2417 in 2018 at the Council, which condemns the starving of civilians as a method of warfare as well as the unlawful denial of humanitarian access to civilian populations was a critical watershed acknowledgement of the direct link between war and hunger.
 
Ireland now has a timely opportunity to build momentum for accountability, adherence to the resolution and overall protection of civilians in conflict. It won’t be easy and it is impossible to ignore the role of first world countries in weapons production and sale. These same countries are often those that offer a sticking plaster of aid to communities that are falling apart at the seams due to decades of conflict, suffering and hunger.
 
Combatting hunger is a key and logical entry point for Ireland on the Security Council and something that would undoubtedly be supported at home.
 
The recent documentary on the Famine, seen by a wide audience across the country, provided a visceral illustration of the true nature of starvation and societal collapse that goes with famine. It also reminded us of the ferocious injustice experienced by ordinary people caught up in wider issues of starvation tied to political neglect.
 
These issues remain as true now in South Sudan and in other parts of the world as they did for Ireland in the mid-19th century. Ireland suffered when no one acted. We are at the same point in the world today with famine declared and further threatened and where a humanitarian intervention is needed on a far greater scale.
 
At the start of 2021, our choices and our actions matter more than ever. If we are to build a world without famine and devastating hunger, we cannot ignore those who will simply starve while no one seems to be watching.


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