Thank you President. I thank SRSG Rugwabiza for their briefing and I also welcome the participation of the Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic and the representative of Rwanda.
In response to what we have heard today, I would like to raise three points.
First, the UK welcomes the progress made at the political level, including steps to implement the Peace Agreement and preparations to hold local elections in January 2023. We strongly encourage the CAR authorities to build on the political progress with the support of MINUSCA and ensure meaningful engagement with civil society, including women.
Second, freedom of movement is fundamental to MINUSCA’s work. We welcome the recent decrease in violations of status of forces agreements and, more generally, the positive relationship the SRSG has developed with the CAR’s authorities. We very much hope that this trend will continue.
We also encourage the Government of the Central African Republic to work with the UN Demining Service to combat landmines and IEDs with greater urgency. Explosive devices pose a serious threat to civilians and their access to humanitarian assistance, as well as to the security of peacekeepers. I join others in expressing my deep concern at the October 3 attack that killed three Bangladeshi peacekeepers and wounding one, and offer my sincere condolences to their families and Bangladesh.
Third, the UK is alarmed at the dramatic increase in the number of human rights violations and abuses reflected in the Secretary-General’s report. Violence in Central African Republic, including conflict-related sexual violence, continues to take a depressing toll on the population. It aggravates an already acute humanitarian situation and risks undermining progress towards reconciliation. Attacks on civilians not only by armed groups but also by national forces and the Russian mercenary group Wagner continue to play a destabilizing role in the country and will not help long-term peace, as others have also emphasized today. We call on the Government of the Central African Republic to fully and timely investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses to ensure all perpetrators are held accountable.
Finally, Mr President, we welcome the Secretary General’s recommendation to extend the mandate of MINUSCA. It is vital that the Security Council supports MINUSCA’s crucial efforts to help the Government of the CAR to build lasting peace. The SRSG and their team have our full support.