Tag Archives: war 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 Natural Resource Curse, Central African Republic

Rebel in Northern Central African Republic. Image from wikipedia

Gold and diamond sales are being used to finance conflict in Central African Republic and United Nations peacekeepers should monitor mining sites to clamp down on illicit trade, a U.N. panel of experts * [pdf]said.In a report, the panel also said the peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) should deploy troops to the remote north of the country and use drones to monitor the rebel-controlled region to put an end to simmering violence there.  The mission, which launched in September, is operating at only two-thirds of its planned 12,000-strong capacity.

Central African Republic was plunged into chaos when northern, mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized control of the majority Christian country in March 2013, prompting a vicious backlash by the largely Christian ‘anti-balaka’ militia.  The panel said that some 3,000 people had been killed between December 2013 – when the U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo – and August 2014.  The Kimberley Process – a group of 81 countries, including all the major diamond producers, formed to prevent ‘blood diamonds’ from funding conflict – imposed an export ban on raw gems from Central African Republic in 2013.  But since then, an additional 140,000 carats of diamonds, valued at $24 million, had been smuggled out of the country, the panel estimated…..

In their northern enclave, the former Seleka fighters are imposing taxes on a wide range of goods from gold mining to coffee, livestock, and diamonds to fund their operations, the report found.  Former Seleka fighters were issuing mining licences to gold miners at the Ndassima mine near the rebels’ headquarters of Bambari, in the centre of the country, it said…

It suggested that interim President Catherine Panza’s decision to name representatives of the armed groups to cabinet roles may have fuelled conflict.”Competition among political representatives of armed groups for ministerial positions, as well as among military commanders for control of resources, accounts for of the recent infighting between former components of Seleka and rival factions of anti-balaka,” said the report, dated Oct. 29 but only made public this week.

Excerpts, Gold, diamonds fuelling conflict in Central African Republic, Reuters, Nov. 5, 2014

*Letter dated 28 October 2014 from the Panel of Experts on the  Central African Republic established pursuant to Security Council  resolution 2127 (2013) addressed to the President of the Security Council [S/2014/762]

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