Airlifts Begin After CAR Leader Resigns

Airlifts Begin in Bangui
Airlifts Begin

Under pressure to resign from Chad President Idriss Itno, the leader of the Central African Republic, Mr. Djotodia, stepped down Friday from power. The crowds united and rejoiced in the streets, briefly, then allowed the airlifts to begin after this CAR leader resigned.

The sectarian violence is the main issue, with rebel movements unleashing terror and violence upon its own citizens. Rebels came from the north to the south: killing, kidnapping and looting, along the way. The south is primarily Christian and in December, they fought back. It’s not a war yet, but allowing Northerners to fight Southerners and align Muslims against Christians; Mr. Djotodia, definitely was not promoting peace or uniting this country, which became independent from France in 1960. That is a long time ago and residents were hopeful for peace, when he was elected last March.

Neighboring leaders from Chad and other leaders nearby assembled; Mr. Deby from Chad was clear to President Djotodia about his lack of control. Mr. Deby’s own citizens have had to flee amidst turmoil and fear. He cites President Djotodia’s lack of control over his own rebel group, Seleka, who are now being pursued in revenge attacks.

The French sent troops in December after 1,000 people were killed. Recently, the minister of defense from France refused a meeting, making known his views of the unsettled country and its leaders indecisiveness of events leading to mass paralysis. Presidents gathered from nearby regions to find an answer to the crisis. Mr. Djotodia’s resignation was accepted and regarded as patriotic for the country.

Because the country of CAR had only seen a man in power and rebel killings for nine months; they wanted more for their country who now holds free elections. No one, including diplomats, analysts and the opposition knows if this will work, but it is a start to ward off a political, rebel or civil war. People in Bangui cheered Friday morning when they heard the news; this was music to their ears. Now the massive airlifts can begin for the migrant workers trapped at the airport in Bangui, a temporary, makeshift refugee camp.

After the brief celebratory announcement, the real human strife begins, to repair and move forward. Airlifts began Saturday, January 11th for tens of thousands wanting to flee the country and return home. First up is to find the Seleka and make those responsible, pay for the crimes committed. Then a whole list of items remain to be worked upon such as: the economic standstill, school closures, refugees in need of the basics and the daily bursts of violence.

Refugee Camps in Bangui
Refugee Camps for Migrant Workers

IOM, International Organization for Migration sent a chartered plane to begin this process. Around 300 Chadians will fly to their capitol Ndjamena on the first flight , then two more for a total of 1,000 migrant workers brought home. Women and children have been given priority. Francois Goemans, a coordinator for emergent affairs was shocked by what he saw, stating its the worst he’s seen in 20 years.

Physically, people have diarrhea as sanitation is terrible. Mentally people are stressed and traumatized by the violence from the killings. The IOM is trying to get these people out as quickly as possible by plane, so they don’t have to go by land, which could be dangerous due to rebel groups.

Alexandre Ferdinand Nguerdet, is the official in charge of CAR until elections later this year. Can he quiet this country by stopping the violence and healing the religious differences?

The Christians feel the Muslims ‘killed us, stole from us and now they must pay.’ All this goes back to the fact that the Selekas, a rebel Muslim group, were responsible for Djotodia being elected to power last Spring. The UN has asked for $40.2 million to assist in their response for this crisis. A hopeful resolution has started as airlifts begin after CAR leader resigns.

By Kim Troike