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The Central African Republic crisis is continuing to get worse and experts have started to warn of genocide. With little attention from the media and no real action from international forces, the future of the Central African Republic does not look good.
Read our first summary of the conflict here.
According to the UNHCR, approximately 560,000 people have been internally displaced and 115,500 people have been displaced to Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Republic of Congo. (1)
According to the World Food Programme, 1.6 million people are in need of food assistance in C.A.R. (2)
Camille Lepage, a French journalist, was killed last week while trying to bring attention to the conflict and promote the need for action from others. Her death brought a burst of attention from the media, but news channels quickly turned their attention elsewhere. (3)
There are approximately 5000 peacekeeping troops from the AU in C.A.R. now, and approximately 2000 from France. The United Nations is supposed to be sending 10,000 officers and 2,000 police officers in September according to the latest reports. (4)
Finland is set now to send approximately 30 troops to C.A.R. for crisis management operations as part of the EU. (5)
The interventions planned are a part of a positive effort, but their effectiveness is in question. Peacekeepers are a 'nice' solution, but as we witnessed with Rwanda, they are extremely limited as to what kind of action they can take. No matter what, something must be done and the people cannot wait much longer.
A little background on the Central African Republic
One thing that is essential in understanding international conflict is understanding the countries themselves. Here is a good video we recommend to help summarize the history and context of this complex issue in the Central African Republic.
(1) UNHCR: Thousands displaced by stepped-up fighting in central-northern CAR
(2) As Central African Republic crisis deepens, UN agency scales up food assistance
(3) Camille Lepage, photojournalist, killed in Central African Republic
(4) U.N. to Send Peacekeepers to Central African Republic
(5) Finnish troops depart for Central African crisis management operation
The history of the Central African Republic is riddled with dictatorships and conflicts since it was established in 1960. On January 20th, 2014, Catherine Samba-Panza became the new interim president. The former mayor of Bangui (the capital of the C.A.R.) is the first woman to become president in the country. A great accomplishment, but not at a great time. She is the third president in just one year. (a)
Just over a year ago, tensions in the CAR hit a high when the Seleka rebels took over several towns and overthrew the government. Then-president Francois Bozize fled the country and the leader of the Seleka rebels took his place. The Seleka rebels killed many people and made a tremendous effort to take over what towns they could. The Christians retaliated, calling themselves anti-Balaka, and committed their own crimes. Both sides are guilty of targeting the other and taking lives based on religion and ethnicity. It is debatable, however, if the C.A.R. crisis is a genocide or simply a product of government breakdown. There are many armed forces involved, and no one is clearly right or wrong. Although at this point Muslims are the ones being targeted the most. (b)
Due to all of the attacks and fighting, many have left their homes to find safety. According to the United Nations, "There are currently 701,500 people internally displaced in CAR and 290,801 who have fled the country as refugees. More than half the country’s 4.6 million people are currently in need of humanitarian help." (c)
Over the last few decades we've seen things like this take place. Somalia, Rwanda, and Sudan, to name a few. Every time there is a severe lack of coverage in the media, and most people don't know about it until after it's happened, or millions of people have been affected.
The first priority at this time is the need for humanitarian assistance. Almost a million people have been displaced and they are in severe need of food, clean water, and everything else. Refugee camps are full, leaving many to rely on people's goodwill to help them. Many who flee have not eaten in weeks and are on the brink of death from starvation and disease. Basic needs must be met.
The World Food Program is actively working to meet the needs of the people displaced by the C.A.R. crisis, but they are struggling to meet the growing demands. For every dollar donated to the World Food Program for the C.A.R. crisis, they will match a dollar, up to $1 million. You can learn more about how to help and donate on their website.
To learn more about the C.A.R. Crisis--
TIME: Meet Catherine Samba-Panza, Central African Republic's New Interim President (a)
New York Times: Playing the Genocide Card (b)
UN News Centre: UN increasingly concerned for people fleeing Central African Republic, South Sudan (c)
World Food Programme: Central African Republic on Brink of Catastrophe
World Food Programme: Map of Impact of CAR Crisis
Written by Sarah Frederick