Unprecedented Civil War Becomes More Deadly

There have been growing concerns stemming from the Central African Republic following an uptick in violence from the country’s nearly five-year long civil war. According to the UNHCR, approximately 1.1 million people have been displaced from the conflict, with 500,000 of which have fled the country and another 600,00 who have been internally displaced. As recently as last Tuesday, the president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, dismissed the country’s Defence Minister, Joseph Yakete, leaving many speculating if the move was caused by the deteriorating state of conflict taking place in the country. While the Central African Republic experienced a relative lull in conflict since around 2014 thanks to French military intervention, this year has seen a new surge in warfare between armed groups. Many have blamed the escalation of conflict on the recent withdrawal of French troops, which has left the country’s national security forces too weak to combat armed groups.

The ongoing civil war is a direct result of a Muslim rebel coalition named the Seleka overthrowing the Central African Republic’s former president, François Bozizé, in an attempt to create a Muslim government in a country that has a mostly Christian population. Since then, the conflict between Christian and Muslim forces have continued to plague the country. While civil wars are not uncommon in this region of the world, this sort of secular violence is quite rare and has sparked concern from many outside the country who are worried that the conflict could evolve into a genocide. In an interview with the Associated Press Stephen O’Brien, the United Nation’s top humanitarian official warned that the situation showed “the early warnings of genocide.”

With the withdrawal of western troops, militia groups have been able to reform and strengthen, the two most prominent being the Seleka and the Christian group, Anti-Balaka. Currently, about 70 percent of the country is under the control of rebel militias, leaving any foreign aid outnumbered and incapable of handling the growing conflict. The UN is calling for an “urgent increase in military capabilities given the deteriorating security situation and escalating violence against civilians, humanitarians and peacekeepers.” The recent surge in power of rebel military groups has caused more violence against civilians. And despite the demands from the UN to increase the military peacekeeping presence in the region, many civilians feel that the UN’s tactics are ineffective. Amnesty International, a non-government human rights group said that “many Central Africans are now expressing increasing cynicism about MINUSCA’s willingness and ability to restore order, and about the mission’s capacity to conform to even a limited civilian protection mandate.”

Despite the concerns, the need for cooperation from the UN and the rest of the international community is now reaching an all-time high for the Central African Republic. For a country that is among the poorest in the world, it cannot resolve this crisis by itself. With an increasing number of rebel military groups using tactics such as raping and brutally killing innocent civilians, there is an urgent need of international aid. If one of the world’s most neglected civil wars continues to be ignored, it could spiral out of control and turn into an unprecedented deadly secular war.

EJ Patterson


The Organization for World Peace