Tag Archives: Central African Republic

The Crisis Continues in the Central African Republic

Lead photo: The National Forum of Bangui during the report on ‘Justice and Reconciliation’ in the capital of the Central African Republic on 9 May 2015.

The history of the Central African Republic (CAR) has been riddled with conflict since it was first established in 1960, but the past few years have been particularly upsetting. In December of 2012, fighting between the Seleka and Anti-Balaka groups began causing catastrophe. Towns were burned to the ground. Men were either recruited to fight or were killed. Women were raped, taken as slaves, or slaughtered with their children.

To complicate matters, there truly was never a good or bad side to begin with. The CAR was a poor country at the start and as seen in every major conflict, upheaval occurred when people felt they weren’t treated fairly. Unfortunately, a few bad people started propagating hate that sparked killing and pillaging. Now there is no way to ‘take back’ what has been done. The scale of the situation has spread and over a million lives have been affected in both the CAR and surrounding countries.

Today, UNMAS in its work as part of MINUSCA, the Frensh Army (Sangaris), and the Central African Forces (FACA), in a combined operation destroyed 688 rockets (approximately 3.5 of explosives) stored in Camp de Roux.  The rockets were labeled to be beyond their use date and their destruction was essential.  PHOTO Nektarios Markogiannis, UN/MINUSCA
Destruction of Rockets in Central African Republic PHOTO Nektarios Markogiannis, UN/MINUSCA

While there has been some international response and the storm has seemingly calmed, rebel groups are continuing to fight for power. Some areas are still controlled by armed militias leaving many who need humanitarian assistance unreachable. More than 6,000 lives have been lost since 2012 and the number continues to rise due to violence and humanitarian crises. As long as these groups continue to terrorize the countryside, innocent people will suffer.

Continue reading The Crisis Continues in the Central African Republic

Expert Panel Draws Up International Code in Response to Reported Peacekeeper Sexual Abuse

An international expert panel of leaders convened today in New York City  to launch the Code Blue campaign demanding an end to sexual abuses by UN peacekeeping forces and the automatic immunity they are afforded when abuses occur.

In recent weeks a scathing, formerly classified, report: Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, was leaked revealing French peacekeeper soldiers sexually abused boys as young as nine during their Central African Republic Sangris operation between December 2013 and June 2014. The report, which was ultimately leaked by a senior UN aid worker and director of operations, Anders Kompass, states that mostly homeless and orphaned boys were sexually exploited. The sexual exploitation, including sodomy and rape, by French peacekeepers occurred in exchange for food and money. The abuses allegedly occurred at the renown M’Poko airport in Bangui where thousands retreated to relative safety during the height of the ethnic violence between Muslims and Christians in Central African Republic’s near genocide.

Kompass was subsequently disciplined for breaking UN protocols. Meanwhile, the report was first leaked in July of 2014 and stagnated until it was revealed recently by AIDS-Free World.

The UN, however, contends the peacekeeping soldiers in question are not a part of their operations. “The forces referred to in the Guardian story are French and do not fall under UN authority,” says a UN official. “The issue of confronting sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel remains one of our highest priorities.”

Continue reading Expert Panel Draws Up International Code in Response to Reported Peacekeeper Sexual Abuse

Has the Global Community Failed the Central African Republic?

A view of internally displaced children at the main mosque in Bangui during the Secretary-General’s visit.

It comes as no surprise that many in the international community are now admitting that the Central African Republic, which many believe now rests on the brink of genocide, has been failed entirely. For one, sectarian fighting and ethnic cleansing have not let up. Only 29% of requested funds have been provided for relief, and even though the United Nations approved a peacekeeping mission that will comprise 10,000 troops, 1,800 police and 20 corrections officers, those troops will not arrive in the landlocked African country until September. It’s not certain if the Central African Republic can wait that long.

“The situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate in terms of firstly, security for the ordinary people and secondly, their humanitarian plight as a result of the huge amount of displacement that has already taken place and continues to take place,”  said John Ging, Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) this week in New York. “The scale has grown in terms of the impact on the population.”

A disturbing trend of late due to the rampant violence in CAR is humanitarian workers are no longer seen as “off limits”. Three staff members from Doctors Without Borders were killed in April as well as a national staff member for the UNHCR this week.

While there is movement to help both the Christian and Muslim communities in the Central African Republic, the movement is slow-going despite early efforts from France and the African Union to donate money and soldiers to quell the violence. 150 European Union soldiers reached the Central African Republic in April and has taken over control of Bangui’s airport. That number will increase to 800 by next month.

With several raging conflicts on the African continent and around the world, the Central African Republic, while in dire need, is not the only conflict that needs resolving. The global community is stretched thin, to be sure. The United Nations’ World Food Programme has, however, ramped up a large-scale feeding operation and has provided food assistance to 200,000 people as of April numbers. Children, who are especially susceptible to violence, have received special nutrition from the WFP as food becomes more scarce not only in Bangui, but in pockets around the country.

“WFP is expanding its operations geographically inside the Central African Republic,” said WFP spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs from Geneva. “In December, WFP reached four urban centres with food assistance, by March it expanded to 21 locations and in April to 35.

Reports out of the Central African Republic seem to bear the same story: the violence is not ceasing or even waning for the best interest of the country. In fact, an escalation of the violence is the norm. Ging reiterated this week in New York that blame is no longer being placed on the anti-balaka or Séléka, but now on entire communities – Christians against Muslims.  Just this week, 15 people were killed in border towns. And even though  less than 3000 people have been killed in the ethnic violence nearly 600,000 people have become internally displaced (see PDF). These numbers will be incredibly impacted as the rainy season begins.

While there are steps being taken by the global community to ease the violence and restore order in the Central African Republic even though there is an interim government, the urgency does not appear to be present. Today, however, in Bangui, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, spoke to reporters about the roll-out of  the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission, to be known as MINUSCA, mission.

“We will spare no efforts…and I think we have the desire to work with all stakeholders in the international community, with our partners in the African Union, in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and major regional actors, all in a unity of vision,” said Hervé Ladsous, adding that the CAR Government must also play a key role in easing the crisis.

Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

We Cannot Stay Silent on the Central African Republic

As we watch the crisis in the Central African Republic unfold we cannot sit idly by and simply read the horrific news reports and witness the massive carnage during the evening news. We must raise our collective voices to pressure the international community to further intervene in the mass sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing that are taking place daily in the Central African Republic against Muslims in retaliation for the mass killings of Christians months prior.

The international press and humanitarian agencies have ceaselessly reported about the atrocities that are occurring on a daily basis in the poor, landlocked African country including executions of entire families, burning of homes and people, and sparing no one save those who the perpetrators bestow mercy upon or who escape into the bush. Countless reports and social media updates have emerged from the Central African Republic that Muslims are being executed in town squares leaving a bloodbath for everyone to witness. Charred and maimed bodies from lynchings litter the streets. Some bodies have even been devoured by wild animals. Children and their parents are being hacked to death and executed with impunity. And, the requisite atrocities are also occurring — rape, recruitment of children into the lawless militias, stealing, and looting of personal property. And while French and African Union troops have been deployed to the country to defuse the situation things are becoming far worse, not better. People’s lives and livelihoods hang in the proverbially balance while the international community and the Central African Republic government wait to quell the violence. Meanwhile tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing the country in search of protection in neighboring countries leaving behind not only their citizenship, but also their sense of safety in a country that should protect all of its citizens regardless of religious affiliation.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Also, read Amnesty International’s new report, Ethnic Cleansing and Sectarian Killings in the Central African Republic.

Amnesty International