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Central African Republic peace-building must include displaced: Kaelin

12 February 2009

BANGUI – “Signing the peace accords and holding the inclusive political dialogue mark considerable advances in the quest for peace and stability in the Central African Republic. These steps allow it to now vigorously put in place durable solutions for internally displaced persons,“ the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Mr. Walter Kaelin declared today at the end of his visit that began on 10 February.

The Representative deplored the precarious conditions in which more than 100,000 displaced persons still find themselves as a result of the conflict in the North of the country as well as violent acts committed by criminal elements in total impunity. He recalled that the Central African authorities have the responsibility to take concrete and specific measures that allow the displaced to exercise their right to decide freely to return as well as their rights to security, food, housing, health, education and participation in public life, in particular concerning decisions affecting their own future. Special emphasis must be given to persons with special needs, especially children, Mr. Kaelin emphasized.

Furthermore, only immediate and targeted support by the international community to the efforts of the Central African government and a concrete return strategy which address security and development concerns in return areas and will permit progress in achieving durable solutions for displaced communities. In this context, efforts aimed at ending the crisis and consolidating the peace have to take into account the protection needs of displaced persons to be sustainable.

Following his official visit, which he carried out in March 2007, the Representative returned to the Central African Republic to continue the dialogue with the authorities improving the protection of the rights of internally displaced persons. During his stay in Bangui, the Representative met with the Prime Minister, other ministers in charge of issues linked to internal displacement, politico-military movements, representatives of the United Nations, donors and civil society.

Walter Kaelin, professor of law at the University of Bern (Switzerland), has been the Representative of the Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced People since 2004.