Attacks on peacekeepers from the UN Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) have left two dead and at least seven wounded. On Sunday, 3 June, one peacekeeper was killed by armed gunmen while patrolling in the village of Dilapoko, in the west of the country. The following Sunday, 10 June, another peacekeeper was killed during clashes in the city of Bambari, central CAR. The latest attack was allegedly carried out by the Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique, an armed group which recently caused large-scale destruction and civilian displacement in Bambari.
In recent months conflict between rival armed groups in CAR has intensified and spread, affecting areas which have previously been considered relatively peaceful and stable. Predatory armed groups currently control more than 70 percent of the country. Ongoing violence between these groups has contributed to the internal displacement of almost 690,000 people, while more than 575,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Dozens of civilians have been killed by armed groups so far this year.
With violence against civilians growing, deadly attacks on UN peacekeepers have also become increasingly common. Such attacks may constitute a war crime under international law.
In 2017 fifteen peacekeepers were killed in CAR. Since January this year five peacekeepers have already been killed in targeted attacks, making MINUSCA one of the deadliest peacekeeping missions in the world. Although the UN Security Council authorized an additional 900 troops in November 2017 in an effort to enhance MINUSCA’s ability to uphold its civilian protection mandate, these troops have still not been deployed.
The disarmament and demobilization of all armed groups in CAR remains essential. The government, together with MINUSCA, must ensure the swift investigation and prosecution of all perpetrators of mass atrocity crimes, including attacks on UN peacekeepers. The Special Criminal Court should formally investigate all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in CAR since the outbreak of conflict in 2012.