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Central African Republic security forces take measures around the party headquarters of current President Faustin Archange Touadera in Bangui, Central African Republic on January 04, 2021
Some security forces in the Central African Republic have been accused of 'grave human rights abuses'Image: Nacer Talel/AA/picture alliance

UN concerned over Russian mercenaries in CAR

March 31, 2021

The UN's human rights commission has reported executions, torture and forced displacement of citizens in the country. The UN has claimed the Wagner Group was involved.


The UN's human rights monitor said on Wednesday that they were concerned over reports of "grave human rights abuses" by Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic (CAR).

"The experts have received, and continue to receive, reports of grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, attributable to the private military personnel operating jointly with CAR's armed forces and in some instances UN peacekeepers," said a statement from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The OHCHR said there have been mass executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, forced displacement of civilians, and attacks on humanitarian workers.

CAR – a country under siege

"Unacceptably, there seem to be no investigations and no accountability for these abuses," said the experts.

Who was involved?

The UN body said its panel of experts were "disturbed to learn of the proximity and interoperability" between the contractors and the peacekeepers from the UN mission in the CAR, known as MINUSCA.

"This blurring of the lines between civil, military and peacekeeping operations during the hostilities creates confusion about the legitimate targets and increases the risks for widespread human rights and humanitarian law abuses," the panel said.

The statement mentioned the Wagner Group was involved, which has fought alongside Russian forces in Syria and Ukraine. Other mercenary groups include the Russian-owned Lobaye Invest SARLU and the Sewa Security Services. Russia has denied Wagner Group forces being deployed to the country, saying only military instructors had been sent to train CAR soldiers.

Russia first sent personnel to the CAR in 2018 and increased its support late last year to help the government halt a rebel advance just before the December presidential election. The OHCHR's statement came just one day after President Faustin-Archange Touadera was sworn in for his second term.

What is MINUSCA?

The mission previously defended its participation alongside contractors in order to avoid battlefield accidents and to ensure humanitarian aid was properly delivered. The peacekeeping mission has more than 13,000 uniformed personnel from a variety of countries, with Rwanda, Pakistan and Bangladesh the three largest contributors of troops.

MINUSCA was established in 2014 after a militia ended former President Francois Bozize's control over the country. Roughly one-quarter of its 5 million people have been displaced and thousands have died in the ongoing civil war.

The program has a 2020-2021 budget of just over $1 billion (850 million euros).

One of the most impoverished countries on Earth, the Central African Republic ranked second-to-last in the UN Development Program's latest study tracking levels of human development by nation.

Thousands flee violence in CAR

kbd/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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