Central African Republic is descending into a state of “sectarian genocide” according to reports coming out of the country. Recent photos show the chaos as over 100,000 displaced people take refuge at the country’s main airport in the capital Bangui to escape the sweeping sectarian violence.
The clashes between Christian and Muslim militias have steadily grown over the past few months with little chance for an end in sight. The politically motivated, ethnically targeted violence comes after Muslim Seleka rebels plotted a coup against then-president Fancois Bozize, a Christian back in March of 2013. Following his overthrow he was sent into exile, and with his exile came the chaos.
The UN Security Council has given permission for French and African Union forces to combine their resources in taking action in the Central African Republic following the outbreak. Despite the heavy military presence, reports of “tit-for-tat” violence between the two ethnic groups rages on with over 1000 people declared dead.
The 1600 French troops patrolling the capital of Bengui have done little to stop the bloodshed.
Humanitarian efforts are underway by various international organizations. After being targeted by rogue gangs and militias, the humanitarian-crisis groups say their job is being made much more difficult due to the lack of security.
The EU has made their concerns for sending more troops to Central African Republic clear, stating that they do not want to risk EU citizen’s lives over the situation.
Meanwhile the risk of deadly diseases spreads as those injured in war are left untreated. Other diseases from malnutrition and lack of proper hygiene make the situation only that much worse.
One situation in the town of Bozoum shows just how tense the situation is in Central African Republic. One aid worker claims that the small town which is now sheltering 3,000 people, is a target for an “imminent massive attack” by Christian militia who have threatened to massacre Muslim residents in the community.
The clampdown on towns like this makes it very difficult for aid workers to get supplies to these people without risking the safety of their own staff. According to officials, any “large scale humanitarian operation,” is nearly “impossible.”
Observers fear that Central African Republic is slipping into their own sectarian genocide or their own mini “Darfur” situation, a region infamous for the war between the government and the indigenous population. Since 2003, the region of Darfur has been in a state of humanitarian emergency, with people dying by the thousands every year from disease, hunger, and violence.
To only compound the political instability, there have been calls from Christian militias and citizens alike for the current president Michel Djotodia, who was installed in the Muslim Seleka coup back in March of 2013, to resign.
Sources from within Michel Djotodia’s camp say he will not step down and is doing all that he can to quell the violence, while other “political sources” in Bangui say the Central African Republic president plans to step down before the regional summit held this week comes to a close.
The U.N. has been trying to deal with instability all across Africa. From South Sudan to Nigeria, U.N. peacekeeping operations have had mixed results, some proving more successful than others. The U.N. hopes that they can intervene before the Central African Republic has slipped into a full blown sectarian genocide like it did in Rwanda.
by John Amaruso