Monday 19 February 2018
(Reuters (Eng) 01/16/18)
PARIS (Reuters) - French magistrates have dismissed a case brought against a group of French soldiers accused of sexually abusing children while on deployment in the Central African Republic in 2013-2014, a judicial source said on Monday. Paris prosecutors called last year for the case to be dismissed because some of the testimony was deemed inconsistent and some elements could not be confirmed, even if they could not exclude that abuses took place. The decision was met with frustration in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, where repeated allegations of sexual misconduct have helped fuel anger towards French and U.N. troops deployed there. “Our government must do its job and judge these acts here, because they were committed on Central African...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
French investigating magistrates have closed a probe into allegations that French soldiers raped children in the Central African Republic while on a peacekeeping mission, judicial sources told AFP on Monday. The magistrates said there was no evidence that members of Operation Sangaris, deployed to keep warring militias apart, had abused children at a camp for people displaced by the fighting in 2013 and 2014, the sources said. The state prosecutor had last year called for the case to be closed. While admitting "it is not certain that no sexual abuse took place", the prosecutor said that "differences" in the testimonies of the children who came forward made it impossible to establish guilt among the troops. No one was ever charged...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic have appealed to armed groups controlling swathes of the chronically unstable country to stop looting and lay down their arms. Mired in poverty but rich in minerals, the former French colony has been battered by a conflict between rival militias that began in 2013 after then president Francois Bozize was overthrown. The bishops made the appeal during an episcopal conference in the capital Bangui on Sunday. "In the name of God, we ask the armed groups to unconditionally lay down their arms," and "stop all sorts of crimes (including) looting natural resources and causing the dysfunction of the state", they said during mass. The closing ceremony of the conference was attended by President...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The African Union said Friday that President Donald Trump's reported description of African nations as "shithole countries" broke with "accepted behaviour" and was "extremely upsetting." Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU Chairperson Moussa Faki, told AFP that Trump's statement "truly flies in the face of accepted behaviour and practice." "This is not only hurtful, I think, to people of African origin in the United States, but certainly to African citizens," she said. "It's an extremely upsetting statement," she added. The comment was reportedly made during a Thursday meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
President Donald Trump reportedly lashed out in a Thursday meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform, demanding to know why the US should accept citizens from what he called "shithole" countries. The comments, first reported by The Washington Post, sparked anger among Democrats and Republicans and revived questions about Trump's tendency to make racially charged remarks. Trump sat down with senators and congressmen at the White House to discuss a proposed bipartisan deal that would limit immigrants from bringing family members into the country, and restrict the green card visa lottery in exchange for shielding hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, according to people briefed...
(AFP (eng) 01/03/18)
Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay. "This plan will get under way today," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave. Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 (2,900 euros) to do so. After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest. Holot, an open facility in Israel's desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
Hundreds of people in northwest Central African Republic have fled their villages following fresh violence between armed groups, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Sunday. Villagers fled gunfire and machete attacks to arrive in the small town of Paoua, where thousands of people have already sought refuge since fighting erupted in the region in November. "There are clashes at almost every point all around Paoua. We have seen hundreds of people flee their villages to take refuge in Paoua" since Wednesday, said Jean Hospital, MSF's project coordinator in the region. "We received civilians who were directly targeted by gunfire or were attacked with machetes, while others are collateral victims of the clashes," he added. Rival armed groups the National Movement for...
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
Two rival armed groups in the northwest of the Central African Republic have signed a ceasefire agreement, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), which helped mediate the accord, announced on Saturday. The anti-Balaka, a self-proclaimed mostly Christian "self-defence" militia, and the 3R group, which claims to defend the ethnic minority Peul community, agreed in mid-December to cease hostilities in the Nana-Mambere district of the Bouar region, HD said. "Both groups have committed to an unconditional ceasefire as well as the cessation of all hostilities and attacks against armed fighters from the opposite side," the Geneva-based NGO said in a statement.
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
The Central African Republic's embattled president has ordered the disbursement of two months' backpay to state workers, local media reported. President Faustin-Archange Touadera instructed the payment -- for unpaid salary dating to November and December 2013 -- after reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), they said on Sunday. Under it, the IMF gave the green light to a loan of $40.2 million, its third tranche in a programme for the deeply impoverished country, as well as an increase in aid. "I am delighted by this decision (by the IMF) because we met every condition," Touadera said.
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
France on Monday accepted a first group of 19 refugees who were identified in Africa under an overhauled asylum policy that will also see it expel thousands of economic migrants. While it has drawn little public outcry in France, the policy faces stiff opposition from the left and from charities that shelter migrants, 22 of which called in an open letter for France's rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon to intervene. Djamel, a refugee from the Central African Republic, arrived at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport with his wife and four children after spending four years at a camp in Chad, telling AFP: "Now we've no other family. Now you are our family." The new refugees -- also hailing from Sudan --...
(AFP (eng) 12/16/17)
Russia has been authorized to provide the Central African Republic's armed forces with light arms, under an exemption to an arms embargo on the country granted by the UN, diplomatic sources said Friday. "It's clear," an official said on condition of anonymity. London, Paris and Washington had asked that the request be put on hold as they sought additional information on the shipments. They also called on Russia to strengthen measures related to the storage of the weapons in the Central African Republic, which has been under an arms embargo since 2013. "Our only request was that the Russian delegation submit additional information on the serial numbers of the weapons... so that we can track weapons going into CAR," said...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
The United States, Britain and France on Wednesday asked that a Russian request to send light arms to the Central African Republic be put on hold as they seek more information on the shipments, diplomats said. Russia has asked the UN Security Council for an exemption to an arms embargo on the Central African Republic (CAR) to allow the arms to be shipped to its armed forces. The first delivery of pistols, automatic rifles and ammunition is scheduled for next week. CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the weaponry...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
At the frontier between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, a long queue stretches between two checkpoints as travellers wrestle with officialdom and the inevitable demand for a sweetener in order to cross. The headache of crossing the border at Ebebiyin, at the crossroads of Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Cameroon, is typical of many frontier points in Africa, where customs hassles and kickbacks add to delays, costs and frustrations. But the problem here carries special weight. It is enduring despite a vow by a six-nation alliance in central-western Africa to create an unprecedented border-free bloc. "To cross by car from Cameroon to Gabon, we pay 30,000, 45,000 CFA francs (45 euros/$50 to 69 euros/$80). There's no explanation why,"...
(AFP (eng) 12/13/17)
Russia has asked the UN Security Council for permission to supply light arms and ammunition to the struggling armed forces of the Central African Republic beginning next week, according to a request obtained by AFP on Tuesday. The move has raised concerns from France which has questioned Russia's plan, notably over the storage of the weaponry, according to a Security Council diplomat who declined to be named. Russia is asking for an exemption to the arms embargo imposed on the Central African Republic in 2013 when the impoverished country descended into violence. CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the military assistance during talks at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in October, a diplomat said...
(AFP (eng) 12/12/17)
A militia leader in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) has been killed in clashes with rival groups in the country's gold-rich heart, sources said Tuesday. The fighting erupted on Sunday in the town of Ndassima, pitching two militias, the FPRC and UPC, against a rival called the RDR, which is in alliance with a splinter group of the FPRC. The RDR's leader, Gaetan Boade, was killed in the clashes, a police source in Bambari, reached by phone, told AFP. The account was confirmed separately by a UN official and by Azor Khalit, who heads the FPRC splinter group. Several sources said there had been additional deaths in Ndassima, although the toll remained sketchy. Ndassima lies at a crossroads of...
(AFP (eng) 12/11/17)
Plans by Central African Republic's beleaguered government to reassert control in the north of the country were in difficulties on Monday after clashes marred the return of the state's top representative to a key city. Colonel Augustin Tombou was formally installed on Saturday as prefect in the town of Kaga-Bandoro -- a politically important step in the strategy to restore state authority in strife-torn provinces. But sources reported a surge of violence, including mortar rounds fired against UN peacekeepers, gunfire targeting a camp for displaced people and a grenade that was thrown during Tombou's induction ceremony. Tombou's residence was "partially destroyed" and the prefecture itself was burned down, Jean-Serge Bokassa...
(AFP (eng) 12/11/17)
Humanitarian groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) have suspended operations, the UN said Friday, after an aid worker was killed in the north of the restive, landlocked nation. "The humanitarian community in CAR continues to pay a heavy price from the rise in criminal activity in northern, southern and southeastern regions," the UN's OCHA aid organisation said. At least 10 people had already been killed this week in clashes between rival armed groups, local officials and a UN source said on Thursday. The bloodshed, which began on Sunday in the central town of Ippy, resulted from clashes between the mainly Muslim...
(AFP (eng) 12/11/17)
Up to 6,000 Africans who fought for the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Iraq and Syria could return home, the African Union's top security official warned Sunday, calling on countries to prepare for the threat. Smail Chergui, the AU's commissioner for peace and security, said African nations would need to work closely with each other and share intelligence to counter returning militants. "There are reports of 6,000 African fighters among the 30,000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East," Chergui told a meeting in Algiers, according to the Algeria Press Service news agency. "The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and...
(AFP 12/08/17)
A Central African Republic aid worker was killed after gunman stormed his home, his family said Thursday, the latest death in a week of clashes in the country. The 35-year-old man who worked for Italian humanitarian organisation Intersos, died at hospital following the shooting overnight Wednesday to Thursday in Kaga Bandoro, in the north of CAR. The region is controlled by two armed groups which last week prevented the celebration of a national holiday. At least 10 people had already been killed this week in a wave of incidents between rival armed groups, local officials and a UN source said on Thursday. The bloodshed, which began on Sunday in the central town of Ippy, resulted from clashes between the mainly...
(AFP (eng) 12/07/17)
Violence near the northern border of Central African Republican has forced thousands of people to flock to the tiny town of Paoua, the Red Cross said Wednesday. About 11,000 people have found refuge in the northwestern townlet since fighting between various armed groups intensified last month near CAR's northern border with Chad, said spokeswoman Sylvie Pellet. "Many surrounding villages have been emptied" and the displaced have found shelter with families or at the health centre, Pellet said. Before these recent clashes, the situation in the area was "relatively calm," she added. Mired in poverty but rich in minerals, the former French colony has been battered by a three-year conflict between rival militias that began after then-president Francois Bozize was overthrown...

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