Central African Republic
When: 2013 – Present
Location: Central Africa
Estimated Dead: 5,000+
Displaced Persons: 1 million+
A civil war, fought between Muslim rebel groups and a Christian-dominated government, has led to sectarian violence across the country. Christian militia have been targeting and killing Muslim civilians while Muslim rebel groups have been attacking Christian civilians. There have been reports of massacres, mass rape, torture, and even forced cannibalism against the civilian populations.
In 2013, a Muslim majority rebel group known as Séléka (“alliance”) ousted then-president François Bozizé after accusing him of breaking cease-fire agreements from both 2007 and 2011. These cease-fire agreements had ended the CAR Bush War, a civil war that spanned the years between 2004 and 2011, and not only ended the violence but pledged to integrate the rebel groups into CAR society as well as into the political process. Séléka accused President Bozizé of not adhering to the power-sharing agreements with the rebel groups while the government blamed Séléka for attacking government garrisons unprovoked.
After Séléka took power, Michel Djotodia was installed as president, making him the first Muslim leader in CAR’s history. President Djotodia then set up a transitional government and began paving the way for new elections and the formation of a new government. During the political transition, remnants of the old government began to incite violence within the Christian communities against Muslim populations, in an effort to destroy Séléka’s support. Thousands of Muslims were forced to flee their homes while thousands of others were slaughtered by local Christian militias. This, in turn, has led to targeted attacks against Christian civilians, continuing the cycle of violence.
In an attempt to restore order to the CAR, President Djotodia stepped down in 2014 and Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian, took power. Despite the political transition, violence has continued, with both religious communities facing daily attacks. While the conflict has not yet been labeled a genocide, growing sectarian violence in the region may turn the CAR into the world’s next Rwanda or Darfur.
Personal stories of those affected in the CAR
Hell is an Understatement (New Republic)
CAR Overview (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Conflict in CAR (Enough Project)
CAR’s Hidden Crisis (Crisis Group)
Central African Republic (The World Factbook)