Central African Republic
As it stands, nearly one third of The Central African Republic’s (CAR) population has been displaced by violence and humanitarian crisis. Some have fled to nearby countries, and others are internally displaced within CAR’s own borders. And while the civil war seems to be coming to an end thanks to the 2019 peace deal, it will not be an easy road back. CAR is in the early days of working to build a new government, but continuing violence and interference are complicating the process. In December 2020, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra was re-elected, but the election was not without its problems. Violence and intimidation kept many from the polls, and even led some to flee the country.
The Central African Armed Forces (FACA) responded to attacks on the election with the help of “Russian Instructors.” Russia was supposed to be sending unarmed military observers to train CAR’s national army, but in reality, Russia sent armed mercenaries that have taken part in hostilities and committed gross human rights abuses. A leaked European Union report detailed Russia’s growing influence in the country stating that most of FACA’s forces are under the direct command of Russian mercenaries. These mercenaries have engaged in predation of CAR’s vast natural resources. In the months since the election, both FACA with the assistance of the “Russian Instructors” and various rebel groups, including the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), have committed grave human rights violations. There have been reports of attacks on civilians, on UN workers, schools, hospitals, and the forced recruitment of children. According to the Global Centre for R2P, an estimated 2.8 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in the country.
When • 2013 – Present
Location • Central Africa
Estimated Dead • 5,000+
Displaced Persons • 1.5 million+ (almost a third of the country’s total population)
Internally Displaced • 729,005
Refugees • 632,108
In 2013, a Muslim majority rebel group known as the Séléka Alliance ousted then-president François Bozizé after accusing him of breaking cease-fire agreements from both 2007 and 2011. These ceasefire 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, led to targeted attacks against Christian civilians, continuing the cycle of violence.
In an attempt to restore order in 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 genocide, growing sectarian violence in the region underscores that CAR is at grave risk.
In 2019, a peace deal was signed by the government of CAR and 14 different armed groups involved in the conflict. Mediated by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), this peace agreement aims to be stronger than those that had come before. It aims to include the voices of the rebel groups in the new government, creating ministerial positions for representatives from each group. CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who has been in power since 2016, has expressed his interest in including these members, but also speaks of impunity for continued violence.
Timeline of critical events in the Central African Republic
1993 – Ange-Félix Patassé elected president, ending years of military rule.
1997 – Bangui Agreements – peace agreement between rebel groups and government of CAR
1998 – UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) was established.
2000 – MINURCA ended, but was replaced by the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA).
2001 – There is a failed coup attempt by Army Chief of Staff General François Bozizé.
2002 – Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) deployed troops to CAR, known as the Multinational Force of the CEMAC (FOMUC).
2003 – François Bozizé, former Army Chief under Patassé, staged a coup and instated himself as president.
2005 – François Bozizé re-elected president.
2007 – The Séléka Alliance was established.
2007 – Under Resolution 1778, the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) was established.
2008 – The European Union Force (EUFOR) was established.
2009 – EUFOR ended, transfering authority to MINURCAT
2009 – Former president, Ange-Félix Patassé, returned from exile.
2010 – A new peacebuilding office was established in CAR, the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA)
2010 – MINURCAT withdrew from CAR.
2012 – Fighting reignited, with rebel groups taking control of regions of the country.
2013 – In a March coup, rebel leader Michel Djotodia became president.
2013 – In November, the UN approved the deployment of peacekeepers—the AU International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA)
2013 – In December, France sent troops to CAR.
2014 – UN adopted Resolution 2149, establishing UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)
2015 – CAR government rejected ceasefire deal
2016 – Presence of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ramped up, kidnappings increased.
2016 – Faustin-Archange Touadéra elected president.
2017 – Uganda withdrew forces from CAR.
2017 – Surge in violence, attacks on peacekeepers, seen by many as a result of troop departures.
2017 – UN increased troop size of MINUSCA and extended its mandate.
2019 – Peace Agreement signed between the government and rebel groups
2020 – Faustin-Archange Touadéra re-elected president.