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