Spanning over 600,000 square kilometers, is the Central African Republic, located in central Africa. To put in perspective, the CAR is slightly smaller than Texas, has a population of about 5,400,000 people, and is home to one of the most violent conflicts in the world.
So what’s really happening in this country?
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, this nation has had a long struggle with stability and security. Numerous leaders, foreign countries, and militant groups have been involved in the CAR’s history, only to lead to ongoing conflict.
1960– Central African Republic gains independence from France.
1993– In a multiparty election, Ange-Félix Patassé becomes president, but is unable to meet the financial needs of the military and civil servants. Add some corruption, and there is instability in the CAR.
2003– Leader Francois Bozize seizes the government in Bangui. Although there was some stability under Bozize, many people viewed him poorly. This led to rebel groups that already existed, to have a heavier presence in CAR.
2007– A peace treaty is signed but the conflict doesn’t end here.
2012– Several groups form an alliance, Séléka, meaning “union”. This loose alliance consists of mostly muslim members (about 15%). Séléka takes over towns throughout CAR and eventually attacks the capital, Bangui.
2013– Group leader, Michael Djotodia becomes president. This is the first time that a Muslim president holds power in CAR (a predominantly Christian country).
Next, another group known as, as Anti‐Balaka, consisting of Christians, begins to have a presence in CAR. Their main goal is to fight against Séléka and to seek revenge for any acts committed by them. It is important to note that this religious conflict is an outcome and not a cause.
In addition to these conflicts, CAR is a country full of natural resources. Diamonds, uranium, timber, oil, and gas are all sought after by rebel groups and foreign countries as well. It is because of these resources that rebel groups are able to fund their weapons and activities.
Currently, there is still ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic, and it is starting to be recognized as a genocide. Mostly all muslims have left the country and been displaced. The violent acts of the rebel groups continue to impact innocent people each and everyday. There have been efforts to establish aid and assistance but there has been little success due to the ongoing instability and violence.
Although there is a tremendous amount of violence and conflict in the Central African Republic, we must be hopeful and optimistic. It is important to educate ourselves on issues like this, talk about it, and listen. Knowledge is power and through proper advocacy, awareness, and activism we can help bring light to problems like the conflict in CAR.
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