Due to concerns about the security of US personnel, the US State Department today temporarily suspended its operations in the Central African Republic.
Reports say US States Department ordered its diplomatic team to evacuate as rebels continue to advance and violence may escalate.
U.S. ambassador and its diplomatic staff have reportedly flown out of Bangui and headed to Kenya.
In a press statement, Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick says U.S. Embassy in Bangui temporarily suspended its operations on December 28 but pointed out that is has not suspended diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic.
He reports Ambassador Wohlers and his diplomatic team left Bangui today along with several private U.S. citizens.
He cites that as a result of this suspension of operations, the embassy will not be able to provide routine consular services to American citizens in the Central African Republic until further notice.
“This decision is solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel and has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with the CAR.” – Mr. Ventrell
He says the United States encourages all parties in the Central African Republic to participate in the dialogue to be held under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) to develop a comprehensive agreement that will offer a new vision of peace and security for the country.
Earlier this week, reports say towns were attacked by the ‘Seleka’ coalition of armed groups and CAR lost the town of Kaga Bandoro to northern rebels.
The Seleka rebel coalition reportedly gaining momentum in its advances and attacks.
In addition, the UN reported that another extremist group called Lord’s Resistance Army has also increased its attack in central Africa, leading to the displacement of thousands of people.
Attacks have taken place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 13 attacks in the DRC were recorded which resulted in two killings and 13 abductions, and the displacement of 1,230 people mostly from the Dungu territory in the country’s north-east.
In CAR, LRA attacks have resumed after a lull since April 2011 with 11 attacks recorded this year.
In addition, the LRA has also conducted attacks in South Sudan, which last year led to 7,382 people fleeing their homes.
LRA-related violence is seriously hampering humanitarian work in the province. According to UN data some 2,000 people have been killed and 2,500 abducted, including 892 children, in attacks against civilians in villages and towns across the Orientale province since December 2007.
Those abducted are used as porters, forced to work in the fields or used as sex slaves or new recruits. Attacks are often accompanied by extreme cruelty, including murder, mutilation, or amputation of the lips and ears – apparently aimed at terrorizing people with a view to displacing entire populations. Trauma lasting months or years is common among those who have fled.
The LRA was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged the rebels.
The LRA, a brutal rebel group responsible for Africa’s longest-running armed conflict, has been murdering and mutilating innocent civilians across four countries.