Almost all mosques destroyed in CAR: UN envoy

Almost all mosques destroyed in CAR: UN envoy

HomeAfricaMore Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:36AM

Nearly all of the 436 mosques in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been destroyed by months of deadly sectarian violence, the US envoy to the United Nations says.

Samantha Power said Tuesday that 417 of the CAR’s mosques have been destroyed since the conflict began over a year ago.

Power, who spoke to reporters after a UN Security Council visit to the strife-torn country last week, termed the devastation in the CAR as “kind of crazy, chilling.”

During the inspection tour, the US envoy visited one remaining Muslim neighborhood in the country’s capital Bangui and described the people living there as “a terrified population.”

In addition, Power expressed concern about a possible security vacuum in the CAR as 750 troops from the European Union left the country over the weekend. France has also announced a “substantial drawdown” in its forces in the CAR by the end of this year. Paris had deployed 2,000 troops to its former African colony.

This is while a UN peacekeeping force is still not at full strength. According to Power, the UN force stands at about 80 percent of its planned strength of some 10,000 peacekeeping troopers.

The UN force includes some 6,000 troopers from the African Union, which the international body took charge of last September.

Powers said the combined forces have “averted a worst-case scenario;” however, armed groups remain in the country. The US envoy added that disarmament of the warring groups is a “huge priority.”

The Central African Republic has been convulsed by turmoil since December 2013, when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Seleka group that toppled the government in March that year.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and over one million displaced by the conflict so far.

The interim government in Bangui, which is supported by international peacekeepers, is currently trying to pave the way for a peaceful election in the country.

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