UN Report Warns Risk Of Major Conflict In Central African Republic

Fatal ethnic fighting in the Central African Republic is likely to result in a much more serious conflict if no action is taken to disarm combatants and relieve tensions, warns a UN report on Friday. The report mentioned mass killing and rape by rebels in a “horrific surge” of violence in this country. After interviewing a couple of survivors, Amnesty International also stressed the severity of the issue. The survivors indicated that waves of attacks were carried out by a rebel group called the UPC. The rebels are regarded as a branch of the Muslim rebel coalition named Seleka, which toppled the president in 2013. Indeed, one interviewee described an atrocious attack that happened to her. She said that UPC combatants shot her husband when he tried to flee and threatened: “We’re going to do something to you Christians that won’t be forgotten for many generations.” The combatants later raped her and killed her husband in front of their five children.

The appalling crimes persecuted by the rebels have drawn international attention. Senior Crisis Response Adviser, Joanne Mariner, said current peacekeeping forces have proved ineffective in terminating the abuses. “If the U.N.’S mandate in the Central African Republic is to mean anything, civilians must be better protected,” said Joanne. Apart from that, UN Peacekeeping Chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix also urged that changes must be made. He told reporters “We are seeing a surge … very negative and antagonistic message to the effect that ‘foreigners’ should be eliminated, putting one ethnic or religious component of this country against the other.”

Furthermore, it appears that the Central African Republic is another country plagued by antagonism between different ethnic groups. The horrendous tragedy of the woman mentioned above is just one example of what is going on and may continue to happen in this deeply troubled nation if nothing is done. As such, in order to prevent the rebels from inflicting further atrocities on other civilians, joint actions from international actors must be taken to dismantle and suppress local armed conflict. In fact, Lacroix has highlighted that the peacekeeping group is understaffed in this region, as current UN military personnel, who number at just 10,098, fail to convince local people that they could be effectively protected. Consequently, it would be strongly recommended that more military personnel be deployed into the country, as this would be a suitable way to deter the brutal rebels and get them under control.

In fact, the Central African Republic’s Muslims and Christian have lived harmoniously for generations, even intermarrying. Nonetheless, after the president was overthrown in 2013, the Seleka rebel took power and fueled the hatred that led to prolonged retaliatory attacks. Thus, during Seleka’s reign, the fighters carried out dozens of abuses against Christian civilians. What is more worrying is that Seleka leaders never treated the perpetrators as criminals. In response to Seleka’s cruelty, a new militia composed of Christians was created and it soon started to fight back. As brutal vengeance was enacted against Muslim civilians, nearly the entire Muslim population of the capital Bangui was forced to flee to neighbouring countries, such as Chad and Cameroon. The latest violence is a direct result of the hostility between the two ethnic groups. It seems that the violence is beginning to engulf parts of the country that were previously untouched. In other words, the Central African Republic might soon witness higher levels of violence than any time before.

With that said, it is unquestionable that the Seleka rebel caused the ongoing violence and chaos in the country. There is also no sign that Seleka is willing to stop the fighting for the sake of the people. On the other hand, the Christian militia could not afford to stop retaliating either, as they could be in huge danger if they put down their weapons. Meanwhile, the innocent people could do nothing but flee their homeland. Therefore, in order to prevent the violence from getting out of control and spreading into other countries, it is always worthwhile to reemphasize that international armed actors must step in now.