Officials on Monday, August 17, demanded the release of health workers detained by militia fighters in the Mboki area of the Haut-Mbomou prefecture on Thursday, August 13. The group, led by a doctor from the Obo district, were detained by members of the Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) militia outside Mboki as they were traveling to the town for a measles vaccination campaign. Militia leaders claimed that the group were well and had been detained after attempting to enter the UPC-controlled area without a permit from the group, but local health officials stated that there had been no contact with the vaccination team since they were detained. Other local sources claimed that the militia fighters had seized medical supplies, money, and personal items from the health workers, leaving them stranded in the area.
Further disruption due to militia activity is likely in Mboki and other areas of Haut-Mbomou in the medium term.
The UPC militia has repeatedly been accused of harassing travelers and local communities in the Mboki area in recent months. Although the group is a signatory to the February 2019 CAR peace agreement and its leaders have stated their support for elections due to be held in December, Autorité Nationale des Elections (ANE) teams have been detained several times by UPC members and held for ransom. United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) peacekeepers have also reportedly been prevented from patrolling in the area.
The situation in Haut-Mbomou is typical of several areas of the CAR which remain under the control of various militia groups. Despite the February 2019 peace agreement between armed groups and the government, clashes between various militias, government forces, and peacekeepers continue to occur with some frequency.
Those in Haut-Mbomou are advised to monitor developments, maintain a high degree of situational awareness, and remain vigilant for potential militia activity in their own area of operations. A number of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to most of the east of the country for various security reasons, including the presence of armed groups.
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