Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) – The U.S. envoy to the United Nations flew into Central African Republic Thursday on a surprise visit to urge its leaders to help end brutal violence, warning the people were “in profound danger”.
Samantha Power is the highest-level U.S. official to visit the CAR, which has plunged into anarchy with inter-religious violence that has killed hundreds of people.
Power, who before joining the U.S. administration was a journalist and vocal human rights activist, said American leaders were “deeply disturbed” by the brutality which has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes.
“The people in Central African Republic are in profound danger, and we all have a responsibility which we must meet to help them move away from the abyss,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
The country spiralled into chaos after a March coup in which the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president Francois Bozize.
Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was installed as the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian nation and disbanded the Seleka, but many rebels went rogue, spreading terror which government forces could not stop.
Months of brutal massacres, rapes and looting have followed, with locals forming Christian vigilante groups in response to the atrocities. Top U.S. officials have already warned the CAR is in a “pre-genocidal” phase.
Amnesty International reported Thursday that 1,000 people were killed in Bangui two weeks ago by ex-Seleka rebels in a two-day spasm of violence after Christian militias went door-to-door and killed about 60 Muslims.
During her eight-hour stay accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Power was to meet Djotodia as well as Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
“All of those actors in CAR who have influence must use it, and use their voices to try to help ease the fears… and restore calm,” she said.
‘Urgent action needed’
She was to urge the leaders to back a U.N.-mandated African stabilisation force known as MISCA as it disarms militias and to “explore every avenue to ensure proper and full implementation” of a roadmap towards elections in 2015.