United Nations: A new UN report says "ample evidence" exists that both sides in the devastating conflict in Central African Republic have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, but it says it`s too early to speak of genocide or ethnic cleansing.
A commission of inquiry`s preliminary report, obtained on Thursday by a news agency, appears to conflict with an earlier UN human rights assessment that ethnic cleansing has occurred in the months of fighting between Christians and Muslims. At least one prominent human rights group, Amnesty International, quickly objected to the report`s finding.
The report also says neighbouring countries, notably Chad, "participated or helped the parties to the armed conflict," and that perhaps Central African Republic`s unprecedented sectarian violence will be proven to be an international conflict, not just an internal one.
Thousands have been killed since the fighting began in December, and thousands of Muslims have fled the country. The sectarian nature of the violence has shocked the international community, and its ferocity has led to beheadings of children and entire villages burned.
In the chaos, one of the world`s poorest countries has been left with a largely powerless transitional government.
A UN peacekeeping force of thousands is expected in Central African Republic in September, but the report warns that if the international community "does not react with speed and determination," the situation on the ground could quickly deteriorate even further, leading to genocide and ethnic cleansing.
The new report has been submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council. Back in February, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said "ethnic-religious cleansing" threatened to tear apart the country, and Amnesty International used the term "ethnic cleansing" for the conflict for the first time.
But the new report stated, "The fact that there is an anti-Muslim propaganda from certain non-Muslim quarters does not mean that genocide is being planned or that there is any conspiracy to commit genocide or even a specific intent to commit genocide.