Embarrassed to admit, prior to this post, I had no idea the Central African Republic existed, let alone struggles with a reoccurring presence of violence.
Location and Resources:
For those geographically ignorant like me, CAR is located between Chad, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. CAR contains large amounts of diamonds, timber, uranium, and natural oil and gas deposits; causing both neighboring and distant countries to attempt to gain control of these resources.
An incredibly brief summary of the conflict:
CAR has been under the rule of six authoritarian leaders and the presence of foreign troops since 1960 after gaining its independence from France. In 1993, following years of coups and civil wars, CAR held its first, but unsuccessful elections. Rebel group, Séléka terrorized the region after overthrowing the leader and putting the first Muslim leader in power in the predominately Christian country. Brutalization continued. Under direction of the UN, France deployed troops to CAR to help stabilize the country. A transitional government took over and thousands of Muslims fled in fear of attacks from Anti-Balaka, a Christian militia group retaliating for acts committed by Séléka. An estimated 6,000 people have been killed and vastly more have fled or been internally displaced.
What’s being done:
Just today, the UN Security Council increased the number of corrections officers for its current mission in CAR. The mission will contain 10,750 military personnel made up of military observers, military staff officers, police personnel, and corrections officers (increased from 40-108).
Why it matters:
This country has been rocked by violence since gaining its independence. It blows my mind that occurrences like these can go on daily for years upon years with little light at the end of the tunnel. Not to mention, people like me don’t even know that these things are happening! This is incredibly alarming and concerning. Before any action can be taken, understanding must take place. It requires stepping out of our local, state, and even national bubble and realizing we are part of a world where in some parts atrocities are commonplace and violence is the norm. All of these things impact the world we live in, and as humans fortunate enough to not wake up everyday in the midst of conflict, we shouldn’t stand for that to be a reality for anyone.
-Kelli Anne Louthan