UN chief pledges support to national institutions of CAR

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Secretary-General António Guterres (left) holds a joint press briefing with President Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General António Guterres, on Thursday pledged the support of the UN for building up national institutions across the Central African Republic (CAR).

He was speaking to reporters in the capital Bangui on the third day of his visit to the country, where conflict between Christian and Muslim armed groups has displaced hundreds-of-thousands and led to a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Matt Wells reports.

After meeting President Fastin-Archange Touadéra, the UN chief saluted government efforts to consolidate peace, and pleaded with the international community not to abandon CAR.

Everyone needs to be mobilized to help the country build the future its citizens deserve, he said.

Mr Guterres also met UN military and police contingents, praising their work on behalf of the people of CAR, but also making it clear that the UN's conduct in the country had to be exemplary.

"This will go on being a very difficult mission, you will go on working in very difficult circumstances, and so I have to appeal for your continued determination, your continued courage, and for your continued sense of honour, under this flag, helping and protecting these people, knowing that even if we are in very difficult circumstances, the people of the CAR are in much worse. And they badly need your protection and your support."

On Wednesday, he met victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel and said he had been deeply moved by what he had heard.

Outlining his new zero-tolerance approach to tackling sexual exploitation by peacekeepers and others under UN command has been a major priority during his visit.

Here's UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq describing the Secretary-General's meeting on Thursday with religious and civil society leaders in CAR.

"He told them how much the Central African Republic needs a strong and vibrant civil society. He also reiterated his zero-tolerance for any sexual abuse or exploitation by UN personnel. The Secretary-General outlined his new approach, including a closer partnership with troop-contributing countries. He also introduced to them Jane Connors, the new Victims' Rights Advocate, who is accompanying him. The Secretary-General then met with representatives of political parties. He told them that the current situation in the country can only be solved with a political solution, which cannot be imposed from the outside."

The UN chief is due to address CAR's National Assembly on Friday, and meet with a range of civil society groups including youth and women representatives.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’29″

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