Conflict in the Central African Republic
Article: "Back and Forth in Central African Republic's Unholy War"
This article by TIME summarizes the tense situation in the Central African Republic and what exactly the conflict is about through the eyes of a photographer who went to the region. It also explains how French soldiers (called Sangaris by the African people) tried to come in to stabilize the region and restore their former colony, but that did not amount to much. The African Union also sent in over 5,000 peacekeepers, yet the conflict still continues. The article describes just how violent and horrible the conflict is, with Christian and Muslim neighbors just turning on each other and killing, without any remorse or second thought. 440,000 people are displaced, and over 6,000 children are part of the fighting as well. Overall, it's a truly terrible situation.
Katz, Andrew. "Back and Forth in Central African Republic's Unholy War."Time. Time,
15 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.
So what exactly is happening?
The conflict began in 2012 after the election of President François Bozizé, who was a Christian army officer in the 1980s. A group of rebels - who were predominantly Muslim and called themselves the Séléka (union) coalition - rose up against the president claiming that he was going against Peace Treaties that were signed after the Bush War (which was fought in the region).
Having ousted President François Bozizé, the Séléka rebels began trying to take over the whole country, committing human rights abuses and murder along the way while trying to combat the CAR (Central African Republic) forces at the same time.
With the main conflict being between pro-Bozizé government forces and the Séléka rebels, new predominantly Christian and animist militias also formed to combat the rebels and called themselves Anti-Balaka (anti-machete) forces. These militias put a more religious focus on the conflict, and began carrying out an ethnic cleansing of the muslims in the country, regardless of whether or not they were part of the Séléka forces.
The war as a whole has grown to hellish proportions, with massacre and human rights abuses being carried out on all fronts. Much of the war tactics are not really tactics at all, and are reduced to fighting with machetes and opening firing on whoever is there. While the cause of the conflict might have a religions excuse with Christian militias going up against the Muslim Séléka, the true cause is politically motivated with each group trying to gain control of the country.
What's being done?
According to a report by the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations approved a resolution that would send 10,000 peacekeeping forces to the CAR to bolster the ongoing African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), authorized last December. French forces have arrived on the scene as well to maintain peace and to restore their former colony, and fighters from Sudan and Chad have also arrived to take part in the fighting. At around the same time as the French forces were deployed, the African union sent in around 5,600 peacekeepers to try and stall the violence.
As far as peaceful solutions go, The Economic Community of Central African States helped to establish an eighteen-month roadmap for a peaceful transition to democracy, and in November of 2014, the anti-balaka group even pledged that they would lay their arms down in favor of a peaceful solution. However, the necessary international intervention that would allow for a systematic and non-violent transition to a working democracy has not yet arrived. While the talk has been promising, the future still looks bleak.
Here we have a map of the general conflict, showing towns that were seized by the Muslim rebels as well as attacks made by the Government forces in an effort to maintain control.
This video by the Council on Foreign Relations describes the situation very well.