July 23, 2024

Lazarus Odenge: MUNUSCA soldiers accused of illegal ivory trafficking in CAR

On June 5 at Bangui Mpoko airport, a man was arrested illegally transporting several pieces of high-quality ivory found in his luggage.

The man, Rith Kanara, is a Cambodian citizen representing the Indonesian contingent of MINUSCA(United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic) .

The luggage had not been declared and the necessary documents were missing.

A local police source reported that MINUSCA had withdrawn Rith Kanara from the investigation, suggesting that he would not be prosecuted for this offence.

Ivory is a precious material whose use, production and commercialization have been formally prohibited internationally since 1989.

In 2014, the UN itself attacked poachers in the name of international security, adopting a resolution on the Central African Republic (CAR), stressing that poaching and wildlife trafficking fuel conflicts in Central Africa and benefit organized crime.

It threatened sanctions against individuals involved in such trafficking.

This is the second case of ivory smuggling involving MINUSCA agents in the past week. On June 3, 2024, a CAR citizen Caleb John, was arrested at Bangui-M’Poko airport, while trying to illegally export ivory from CAR. Caleb John had no documents concerning the ivory-filled suitcases.

He was arrested by the Central African police and admitted during questioning that he acting for his friend , one Rafio from the Indonesian continent of MINUSCA whom he met while working as a translator for MINUSCA from 2018 to 2020.

These incidents indicate that MINUSCA may be involved in systemic ivory trafficking, which should be punished to the full extent of the law.

The authorities in CAR are calling on the United Nations to pay attention to these incidents while urging “peacekeeping” soldiers to protect civilians and ensure their safety, but not to plunder the Central African Republic’s natural resources.

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