Tag Archives: Central African Republic

Where Peacekeepers Kill Demonstrators: Central African Republic

Refugees of Central African Republic Conflict

One person died and a dozen people were wounded when hundreds of protesters clashed with U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic on April  10, 2015 local authorities said.  The demonstrators in the town of Kaga-Bandoro,[Christians]  about 350 km (220 miles) north of the capital Bangui, were angry that the U.N. MINUSCA mission had failed to stop raids by ethnic Peuhl pastoralists [Muslims]…”The protesters attacked the town’s aerodrome. To beat them back, the Pakistani blue helmets used tear gas and guns,” the town prefect Gaston Yendemo said, adding that the injured had been taken to hospital. Among those hurt was a Pakistani peacekeeper.

A statement from MINUSCA said up to 400 people, some armed with weapons, attacked the camp. They threw stones at peacekeepers and tried to force their way through the camp barrier, which they set on fire.  “Given the scale of the attack, the blue helmets needed to react by firing in the air. We deplore the death of one person and several injuries among the attackers,” it said, adding that it was the second attack in a week against the base.

Thousands have been killed and around a million displaced from their homes in violence that has gripped the impoverished landlocked country since the mainly-Muslim Seleka took power in March 2013.  The group gave up power last year in the face of diplomatic pressure and violence by the “anti-balaka” militia, who are mainly Christian or animist, and an interim government was installed.

One dead in protest against peacekeepers in Central African Republic, Reuters,  Apr. 10, 2015

The Partition of Central African Republic

Anti-Balaka militia--image from wikipedia

Central African Republic is de facto partitioned with Christian militias in the west of the impoverished, landlocked country pillaging diamonds and mainly Muslim Seleka rebels in the east controlling gold mines, U.N. experts said on Friday.  Violence between the Muslim and Christian communities killed at least 2,400 civilians between December 2013 and April 2014, the panel said, but they acknowledged the toll was likely higher due to underreporting.  Seleka rebels seized power more than a year ago, committing abuses on the majority Christian population that triggered waves of deadly revenge attacks by the anti-balaka Christian fighters, forcing a million people to flee their homes.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council released in July 2014, the experts who monitor sanctions violations said they believe “that armed groups, whether associated with anti-balaka or the former Seleka, have been manipulated and incited by political spoilers to commit acts of violence against civilians and international forces with the aim of strengthening those leaders’ influence and destabilizing the transition process or promoting the partition of the country.”  “The country is de facto partitioned into two … with the predominant presence of so-called anti-balaka militias in the west and of the new Seleka in the east,” the experts said.

The violence in Central African Republic has continued despite the presence of 2,000 French troops and some 6,000 African Union forces. In April, the Security Council authorized a U.N. peacekeeping force of up to 10,000 troops and 1,800 police, which is due to assume authority in September.  “Armed groups have been involved in the illicit trade and exploitation of natural resources, namely gold and diamonds,” the experts’ report said.  “In the west of the Central African Republic, anti-balaka members are digging for and trading in diamonds in remote villages,” it said. “In the east, Seleka forces retain a tight grip on artisanal gold mines.”

In December, the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Central African Republic and then in May, it imposed sanctions on the country’s former President François Bozizé and two other men linked to the country’s conflict. ..Armed groups were mainly using small arms that were circulating in the country before the crisis or obtained from government stockpiles following the collapse of the national security forces, the experts said.

Excerpt from Michelle Nichols. Central African Republic de facto partitioned, UN experts say, Reuters, July 12, 2014

Let them Bleed: How to Pretend to Care about Religious Wars in Africa

alarm

World alarm grew over the Central African Republic (CAR) on November 21, 2013, with France joining a chorus warning of possible genocide in the mineral-rich but poor country torn by strife since a March 2013 coup.  France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that the CAR was “on the verge of genocide”, while the United Nations has mooted sending thousands of peacekeepers to the landlocked nation, where unprecedented sectarian bloodshed has erupted.

In parts of the CAR, fighting has broken out between mainly Muslim former rebels who seized power in March and militia groups set up to protect Christian communities, which make up about 80 percent of the population. Both churches and mosques have been razed to the ground.“It’s total disorder,” Fabius told France 2 television, adding that the UN was considering authorising African and French troops to intervene. A regional peacekeeping force known as MISMA is currently deployed, but consists of only 2,500 men hampered by a lack of funds, arms and training.

In the latest of a long line of rebellions and coups, the Seleka rebel coalition ousted president Francois Bozize in March and put the CAR’s first Muslim leader, President Michel Djotodia, in power.Djotodia, who has officially disbanded the Seleka coalition and incorporated some of its forces into the army, announced “exceptional measures” to quell conflict, but a statement issued by his office gave no details…[The government] formed in the capital Bangui has little control of the rest of the nation, where armed groups – the remnants of successive rebellions, mutinies and insurgencies – hold sway over a people facing atrocities, food shortages and the collapse of health care.”You have seven surgeons for a population of five million, an infant mortality rate of 25 percent in some areas and 1.5 million people who have nothing, not even food, and armed gangs, bandits, etc,” Fabius said of France’s former colony in equatorial Africa.

The UN Security Council plans to vote in early December on a resolution that would allow CAR’s neighbours, the African Union and France to intervene in the sprawling nation….Plans are afoot to place MISMA under the aegis of the African Union and bring it up to 3,600 men, but diplomats and military experts warn that this number will be nowhere near enough. The bulk of MISMA is provided by Chad, with troops from Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

By Nicholas Barret, France joins global warnings of ‘genocide’ in C. Africa,  Agence France Presse, Nov. 22, 2013

Chaos in the Central African Republic

central african republic

Three months after Seleka forces seized power in Central African Republic, the country is in the grip of a humanitarian emergency while the international community looks on with indifference, warned the international medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). (pdf) Central African Republic was plunged into chaos by the coup, and the country remains politically unstable. Citing lack of security, UN agencies and many non-governmental organizations have withdrawn to the capital, leaving the majority of the country without aid. According to a report by MSF, released today, the people of the country have effectively been abandoned just when they most need help.

During the Seleka offensive, hospitals and health centres were ransacked and medical staff fled. Without doctors, medicines or medical supplies, the majority of people in Central African Republic have no access to healthcare. Even before the coup, the country was in crisis, with mortality rates well above the emergency threshold in several regions. Malnutrition and preventable diseases are rife, while malaria is the leading cause of death. MSF teams are seeing alarming numbers of malaria cases, which are 33 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Funding is also an issue. Of the total funds requested in March 2013 by UN agencies and non-governmental organisations to face the current crisis in Central African Republic, so far just 31 per cent has been disbursed.

MSF calls on the international community – including the UN, the European Union and the African Union – to keep Central African Republic at the top of their agendas and to support this fragile country.

Excerpt, Central African Republic: Abandoned to its fate?Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), July 9, 2013