As a community of people who share an interest in peace and humanity, and realize the importance of working together to ensure the world acts to help the most vulnerable, we all need to be, at the very least, aware of what is happening in the Central African Republic (CAR).
This landlocked country situated, as its not very imaginative name suggests, in the center of the African continent has been a victim of its geography and its colonial history for many decades. A former French colony, it became fully independent in 1960. Its independence has been marred by corruption and military rule. Added to this, its unstable regional neighborhood includes Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the DRC and the Republic of Congo. This country has always been battling against the odds.
In 2007, an alliance was formed under the name Séléka (‘Union’), which was made up of three rebel groups. In April of that year, President François Bozize, who himself had ousted the former president from power in 2003, negotiated an accord with Seleka, resulting in them joining the CAR army.
In 2012, a turbulent situation began deteriorating rapidly. The Séléka rebels, angry that promised peace accords were not being followed, began to take up arms, separate from the army. They gained control of much of the north and midlands of the country. In March of this year, the rebels led by Michel Djotodia, overthrew Bozize and took power in the capital city of Bangui. The country, home to nearly 4.5 million people has experienced the worst levels of brutality and lawlessness mainly along religious and ethnic lines ever since.
Slowly, and not a moment too soon, we are seeing signs that the first substantial action to be taken by the international community could be imminent. The Security Council convened an emergency meeting last Monday to discuss the situation on the ground. They are currently considering an arms embargo and a travel ban on certain troublesome individuals. France has 450 troops stationed in the country and has promised to raise this to a thousand troops in an effort to bring some stability and back up African Union troops.
Journalists who have stayed on in the country despite serious security concerns are reporting stories which the world simply cannot ignore. David Smith of the UK Guardian, reporting from Bosangoa in the northwest, describes “a massacre of the innocents” with common scenes of “unspeakable horrors” being carried out by militia and mercenaries. Thousands of civilians have been murdered, mass rape and torture is becoming routine, villages are being razed and children are being forced to fight. Diseases such as malaria are rampant.
France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabuis, warned last week that CAR is on the “verge of genocide”. The world stands yet again on the eve of another Rwanda. In six months’ time, I truly hope we don’t hear another politician usher the infamous last words ‘never again, can this be allowed to happen’.
Some stories, too grotesque for this article, show the sheer evil we are capable of and we must not allow willful blindness to soothe our conscious
Article by UNAC-Vancouver website writer: Barry Hynes.