The armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), founded in 2014 by Ali Darassa, controls the southern parts of the Central African Republic (CAR), where it benefits from gold and diamond mines.
The United States announced sanctions against Darassa, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday, December 17, that action is in connection with the perpetration of serious human rights violations by the group and its leader.
Blinken explained that the armed group uses killings, kidnappings and other acts of violence in order to implement its goals. On November 15, 2018, it attacked a camp for internally displaced persons in the city of Alindao, which resulted in the killing of a number of individuals, and in another incident on March 15, 2020, four individuals were detained and tortured in the city of Mboki on orders from the group.
Blinken stated that Darassa’s decision to abandon the peace agreement in 2019 represents an additional threat to stability and peace in the Central African Republic and has caused human rights violations and further suffering for the citizens of that country.
Spark of violence
In 2017, the UPC announced its effective presence on the scene in the Central African Republic, as its gunmen attacked the city of Goubali in the center of the country, killing eight civilians and looting and burning homes.
Additional attacks by the anti-Balaka and the UPC killed 40 civilians, including five children and four Fulani men, and wounded 26 others.
In the town of Antongo-Bakari and various mining sites in Danga-Gbodo town, houses were also set on fire and people were displaced, while several children were reportedly thrown near the nearby Gbodo River by UPC militants.
Number two man
The group had a strong arm within the Central African government, Ali Hassan Bouba, who was working as Minister of Livestock and Animal Health, but he was arrested in November for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and for his strong relationship with Darassa, as he was reported the group’s number two man.
The UPC is one of the groups affiliated with the extremist group Seleka, which contributed to internal turmoil in the country, after which President Francois Bozize was removed from power.