On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, at least 17 corpses were laid out in front of the UN headquarters in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (CAR), in protests over the operations of the UN-led peacekeepers and the local security forces against armed groups that targeted the Muslim PK5 neighbourhood.
A day before the protest the UN led-peacekeepers under United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) along with the local security forces launched a coordinated attack against armed groups in Bangui’s PK5 neighbourhood with the aim to disarm and dismantle their bases. There were many civilian casualties and recorded deaths. A Rwandan Peacekeeper, serving MINUSCA Mission in the CAR, was killed and eight others were injured in the operation.
For some years now, the Central African Republic has been mired in ethnic and religious conflict. The year 2013 witnessed a dramatic downturn in the political history of CAR as the country plunged into a political turmoil after the Muslim Seleka rebels successfully ousted President François Bozizé and seized power, provoking retaliatory actions by the anti-balaka – a band of armed groups drawn from the Christian communities.
This new clash between the UN forces and the armed groups in the PK5 neighbourhood led to the killings of at least 21 people. These actions resulted in seventeen corpses being brought to UN headquarters by angry frustrated protesters who blamed the UN for aiming their attacks on the PK5 residents. They then marched in a larger demonstration to the UN office in Bangui where one protestor told Reuters, a news agency, of the events that transpired during Tuesday’s operation: “We, ourselves, no longer understand anything…Does their mission consist of shooting at civilians?” The Red Cross became involved and removed the bodies shortly after they arrived. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also provided assistance in helping to treat the wounded.
The protest coincided with the visit of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix and the African Union Commissioner Smaїl Chergui to CAR, both of whom stated that “We, representatives of the African Union and the United Nations, have decided to undertake a joint visit to the Central African Republic to express our solidarity and full support for the Central African people and the peace process in the Central African Republic.” They condemned the attacks that killed and injured peacekeepers. So many lives lost when the situation should have been stabilized.