Central African Republic Declares State Of Emergency As Rebel Occupation Continues

On January 21st, the government of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) declared a 15-day state of emergency in response to safety concerns throughout the country, especially in Bangui. The capital city has now been taken by the Coalition of Patriots for Change rebel group currently occupying about two-thirds of the C.A.R. The state of emergency will allow armed forces in the C.A.R. to make arrests without going through prosecutors.

The C.A.R.’s internal conflict escalated at the end of December following the re-election of its current president, Faustin Archange Touadéra. Authorities within the country blame former president François Bozizé for instigating the new wave of violence after he was prohibited from running in the December election. Christian, anti-balaka rebel groups doubt the December election’s legitimacy and support Bozizé’s claim to power. However, the fighting is not new: it is a continuation of eight years of civil war.

Bozizé held office from 2003 to 2013, until predominantly Muslim Seleka rebel groups ousted him from the presidency. This overthrow ignited religious fighting between ex-Seleka groups and anti-balaka forces, beginning a cycle of violence which still ravages the C.A.R. today. The anti-balaka forces have targeted Muslims and Islamic places of worship throughout the country. However, international human rights agencies, including the United Nations, have accused both groups of “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” and are pleading for peace in the region.

Multiple peacekeeping operations and aid efforts have been created amidst the ongoing conflict. In 2015, the United Nations launched its Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in C.A.R. (M.I.N.U.S.C.A.), now considered “one of the largest and most expensive U.N. operations in the world” according to Africa News, in collaboration with France and the African Union. There are currently about 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers in the country, including reinforcements from Rwanda, Russia, and France, as well as South Sudanese peacekeepers deployed as an extra precaution before the most recent election.

Despite these numbers, the United Nations C.A.R. envoy Mankeur Ndiaye has warned that the country “is at serious risk of a security and peacebuilding setback.” The B.B.C. says that Ndiaye has requested at least 3,000 more peacekeepers, drones, “attack helicopters and special forces.” Ndiaye has also asked for an extension on the Rwandan military presence in the region, intended to last only three months. Large numbers of government soldiers have deserted defense efforts, as a result of “insufficient training and resources”; the C.A.R. military is supposedly trained by Russian and E.U. authorities.

The Central African Republic was already hit hard by COVID-19, but it is not the only country afflicted by the violence. The C.A.R.’s neighbors are also affected by this devastating humanitarian crisis. According to Al Jazeera, more than 60,000 refugees have fled the conflict within the past few weeks alone, escaping to nearby countries such as Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.). The D.R.C. has experienced the highest numbers, taking in around 50,000 individuals since December.

The situation does not appear to be improving. Although a peace agreement was signed in June of 2017, it has clearly not prevented continued bloodshed. The International Criminal Court put a 2013 C.A.R. rebel leader on trial on January 28th: a step in the right direction, but almost seven years too late. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has observed numerous war crimes within the country, including torture and unexplained disappearances. Global Conflict Tracker reports that the fighting has killed thousands and forced almost 600,000 people to flee their homes since 2013. Fran Equiza, UNICEF’s CAR representative, says that women and children are experiencing the worst effects of the crisis, which has now displaced over 100,000 people.

In addition to the civilian casualties, there have been scattered reports of peacekeeper deaths over the course of the eight-year conflict.

The violence in the C.A.R. is only continuing to intensify, ravaging the country, its neighbors, those who are providing peacekeepers, and international humanitarian groups alike. The international community must collaborate with internal and regional authorities to stop the brutality. Relying on reports from people on the ground, the United Nations should deploy more peacekeepers and materials, while the C.A.R.’s allies should increase training and infrastructure for domestic military groups.

There must also be safe havens and protections for the large numbers of refugees fleeing the C.A.R. This will not be possible without the help of nearby countries and global refugee organizations.

This conflict clearly cannot be solved from the outside. Collaboration with regional organizations, such as the African Union, is imperative if lives are to be saved.

Sydney Stewart


Yemen, The Largest Humanitarian Crisis In The World

In the past, Yemen was a prosperous developing country suffused with economical and societal riches. Yemen’s roots in the development and distribution of internationally admired goods like coffee and gold date back centuries, which served as a reliable foundation for growth across much of its existence. However, over time it became apparent that Yemen’s unique capabilities would not prove to be an efficient protective mechanism against the travesties of humanity’s inner workings. Slowly, due to international involvement and rivaling political parties intervening with the nation’s societal welfare, the peace that Yemenis embraced for many years was beginning to dissolve into a thing of the past.
2015: The Ignition to Civil Turmoil
In 2004, the United States pushed the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to concentrate on combating a terrorist group known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In response, Yemen’s military force backed by Saudi Arabia launched multiple strikes against a group known as Houthis, who Saleh alleged were creating a dynamic of separatism ,enforcing their religious beliefs on the country’s people and operating in collusion with AQAP. This created a severe rift between the most prominent religious parties in the nation, which established a hostile environment for the state of Yemen and all of its citizens. The trend towards a civil war, indicated by this long standing atmosphere of tension and conflict finally came to a precipice 11 years later. In February of 2015, the Houthi rebellion finally reached the place of power that it desired by forcing Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi (then leader of Yemen, and technically still president of the nation today) and his cabinet to flee to Saudi Arabia, leaving the Houthis essentially in control of the state and all of its facilities. Just a month later, the Saudi Arabian military set the goals of its military intervention to reverse the nation back into the authority of the Hadi government and retain governance over Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Ever since, these two factions have fought relentlessly for control over the nation, which once gave off a lustrous tint of optimism, but after seemingly endless warfare it has been reduced to a pile of debris and a living case study of how a society can collapse under the pressures of greed, religious opposition, and the corruption of foreign affairs.

The Current State of the Humanitarian Crisis
The civil war in Yemen has decreased the living conditions of its people to a terrifying level. With no resolution in sight, Yemeni people are faced with a situation where optimism for a brighter future seems more like an act of dreaming than a mental reflection of reality. In recent weeks, famine conditions caused by blockades on the borders of the nation and massive economic downfall rivaling famous events on global markets like the Great Depression have reached virality in an increased amount of regions around Yemen. It is estimated that nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. Along with mass starvation, the nationwide warfare has resulted in the displacement of approximately 4 million people, and the killing of over 100 000 people since 2015. These numbers give shocking insight into the sheer magnitude of this humanitarian crisis, and with important political figures like the U.S. President Joe Biden recently announcing reductions in international affairs including the civil war in Yemen, it is difficult to perceive a future where Yemeni citizens will be able to go back to the things they love. An individual can only enjoy the level of happiness that their society’s living conditions permits them to, and unfortunately for the Yemeni people, the likelihood of that ever getting back to a point of admiration remains shrouded in mystery.

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