Category Archives: Central Africa Republic

Will the UN Tackle Impunity for Peacekeepers Who Sexually Abuse Women and Children? Interview with Paula Donovan

Interview from 2nd July with Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World. She is part of the Code Blue campaign, which seeks to end the sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations military and non-military peacekeeping personnel. (Democracy Now)


The African state where a grenade is cheaper than a Coke

Andrew Harding reports for BBC News:

Map‘The grenades come from China, or Bulgaria. The mortars are Sudanese. The rocket launchers were made in Iran. The bullets are British, or Belgian or Czech. Spain and Cameroon provided the shotgun rounds. And so it goes on.

A detailed survey of the weapons currently circulating in the Central African Republic (CAR) offers some intriguing insights into the global arms industry, and the extent to which its output continues to find its way – legally or otherwise – into the hands of rebel armies.

The impact of the weapons trade can be lasting and devastating.

When arms were obtained by the Seleka – a coalition of largely Muslim insurgents that swept to power in CAR in 2013 – a civil war was triggered that went on to displace hundreds of thousands of civilians.’


ICC formally probes ‘endless list’ of Central African Republic atrocities

Charles Onians reports for AFP:

‘The International Criminal Court has opened a formal investigation into an “endless list” of atrocities committed in the Central African Republic, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Wednesday.

“My office has gathered and scrupulously analysed relevant information from multiple reliable sources,” Bensouda said in a statement.

The move comes after a preliminary ICC investigation earlier this year into the violence that has plagued the country for over 18 months established that there were grounds to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.’


More Than 5,000 Dead in Central African Republic Since December

Krista Larson reports for The Associated Press:

‘More than 5,000 people have died in sectarian violence in Central African Republic since December, according to an Associated Press tally, suggesting that a U.N. peacekeeping mission approved months ago is coming too late for thousands.

The AP found at least 5,186 people were killed in fighting between Muslims and Christians, based on a count of bodies and numbers gathered from survivors, priests, imams and aid workers in more than 50 of the hardest-hit communities. That’s more than double the death toll of at least 2,000 cited by the United Nations in April, when it approved the mission. There has been no official count since.’


The Decline of the Fifth Republic: A Legacy of Imperialism

Alexander Reid Ross writes for CounterPunch:

‘After just two years in power, French Socialist François Hollande has become one of the least popular leaders in Europe. He has taken much of the blame for chipping away at France’s social wage and for the rise of the radical right wing. Rather than listening to his economy minister Arnaud Montebourg’s recap of Paul Krugman’s critique of “absurd” fiscal cuts, Hollande has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Emanuel Valls, dissolved his entire government, and ordered Valls to form a new cabinet. The question is not only whether Hollande can still call himself a socialist, but whether the French Fifth Republic can hold on.

The immediate response is that this is just a shakeup, typical of the rebellious style of French political life. But what if there is something much deeper at play? When the Fourth Republic fell in 1958, it was due to the coming dissolution of France’s colonial empire, beginning with Algeria. The French army swept through the backdoors of the French Republic, and in a rapid coup d’etat, overthrew the republican system, reinstating Charles de Gaulle as leader.

Although de Gaulle allowed the government to return to a quasi-democratic process, Gaullism has remained a hard kernel in French politics, emerging powerfully in the 1970s and again for 17 years through the Party for a Popular Movement’s big hitters, Jacques Chirac and Nicholas Sarkozy, after a window of Socialist governance by François Mitterand in the 1980s. The chief reason for the recent shakeup in the French government is not only Montebourg’s claims that financial matters have been mishandled, but his insistence on comparing Hollande unfavorable to Margaret Thatcher and to de Gaulle, himself!’


Millions displaced by religious violence in 2013

The Associated Press reports:

Millions of people were forced from their homes because of their religious beliefs last year, the U.S. government said Monday, citing the devastating impact of conflicts in Syria, Iraq and the Central African Republic.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the displacement of families and devastation of communities from sectarian violence a troubling trend in the world, as he launched the State Department 2013 report on religious freedom… The report, released annually, reviews how religious freedoms are respected and violated in almost 200 countries and territories.’


Central African Republic rebel chief rejects ceasefire, calls for Muslim-Christian partition

From BBC News:

map‘Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic have rejected a ceasefire deal and demanded the country be partitioned between Muslims and Christians. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Harding, Seleka military chief Joseph Zoundeiko said his forces would ignore the ceasefire agreed on Thursday. He said the deal had been negotiated without proper input from the military wing of the former Seleka alliance. Almost a quarter of the 4.6 million population have fled their homes.

The peace agreement between mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and the largely Christian anti-Balaka militia was signed in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville. Muslims have been forced to flee the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR) and most of the west of the country, in what rights groups described as ethnic cleansing. Both sides have been accused of war crimes such as torture and unlawful killing. But Maj-Gen Zoundeiko has now called for the entire country to be split in two, arguing that CAR as a nation state is finished.’


French Complicity in the Crisis in Central African Republic

Editor’s Note: Antoine Roger Lokongo is a journalist and Beijing University PhD candidate from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Antoine Roger Lokongo writes for Black Agenda Report:

Readers of the corporate media might conclude that France is carrying the White Man’s Burden in the Central African Republic, without which the Africans would descend into barbarism. However, “it is France that is ‘a burden’ to CAR and its other former colonies in Africa, not the other way round.” By the end of 2013, “the White man’s burden” was proving too heavy to bear for France. Feeling militarily and materially outstretched, Paris cried for help from other European powers to help it shoulder “its responsibility” to quell violence, restore peace, order and political legitimacy in its backyards of Mali and Central African Republic, both in turmoil: the Islamists terrorists linked to Al-Qaïda in Maghreb (Aqmi), Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and so on, are wreaking havoc in northern Mali and Christians and Muslims are hacking each other to death in Central African Republic (CAR). Both Belgium and the United States responded positively by providing logistics and transport for the French and African troops.

France regards these countries as its backyard because CAR and other former French colonies in West and Central Africa are the constituents of the so-called “Françafrique,” meaning that since independence they have kept close ties with France, the former colonial power, with which they are bound not only by defense agreements but also by a common currency, the CFA franc, which was pegged to the French franc, and therefore to the French Treasury, but is now pegged to the euro. As Colette Braeckman of the Belgian daily Le Soir argued on 31 December 2013, if France abandons these former colonies, it will represent not only a resignation in humanitarian terms but also a political signal, indicating the weakening of the French position on the international level. So ‘abandon’ is not really the term here because France cannot do without Africa.

In fact, former President Jacques Chirac acknowledged in 2008 that “without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power” (Philippe Leymarie, 2008, Manière de voir, n°79, février-mars 2008). Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand already prophesied in 1957 that ‘Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century’ (François Mitterrand, Présence française et abandon, 1957, Paris: Plon).

Former French foreign minister Jacques Godfrain for his part confirmed that “a little country [France], with a small amount of strength, we can move a planet because [of our] relations with 15 or 20 African countries…” This is consistent with France’s “Françafrique” policies, which aim to perpetuate a particular “special relationship” with its former African colonies (Thabo Mbeki, “What the world got wrong in Côte d’Ivoire,” Foreign Policy. April 29). So France is intervening in Africa for the sake of its own survival as a country as well as a power. It is perfectly justified to argue that it is France that is “a burden” to CAR and its other former colonies in Africa, not the other way round. And so, total independence for CAR, both political and economic means the end of “Françafrique.”


Why the EU Sent Troops to Central African Republic: Interview with Emira Woods

Editor’s Note: Emira Woods is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, and an expert on U.S. foreign policy with a special emphasis on Africa and the developing world.

German defense minister signals greater role in Africa

From AFP:

Germany’s new defense minister said Sunday her country should engage more strongly in Africa by sending additional military trainers to Mali and supporting the French intervention in Central African Republic.

Ursula von der Leyen said she foresaw boosting the training mission in Mali from its current mandate of 180 personnel, with 99 now on the ground, to up to 250, and deploying a medical services airbus to back up the French mission in CAR.

Asked by news weekly Der Spiegel whether Germany — often criticized for its post-World War II reluctance to send troops abroad — should boost its international military engagement, she said “within the framework of our alliances, yes.”

[…] In the long term European national armies should be merged into a European military because “unified armed forces are a logical consequence of an ever-increasing military cooperation in Europe,” said the minister who has been in her post for about one month.


Central Africa begins search for new leader after bloodbath

From AFP:

The Central African Republic began the search for a peacemaker president after months of sectarian violence that displaced a fifth of the population.

A special session of parliament convened to elect a new interim leader for the poor landlocked country of 4.6 million people, where a terrifying spiral of atrocities pitted Muslims against the Christian majority.

Rebel-leader-turned-president Michel Djotodia resigned last week under international pressure over his failure to stem the violence that claimed 1,000 lives in the last month alone.

Opening the parliamentary session, Lea Koyassoum Doumta, the transitional ruling body’s (CNT) vice president said: “We should elect a personality who will respond to the legitimate aspirations of our people who have suffered too much.”

She urged CNT members “to avoid making partisan or community-led choices”, but to listen to the people.


EU Draws Up Plans to Send Troops to Central Africa

Post image for EU Draws Up Plans to Send Troops to Central Africa

From The Wall Street Journal:

Draft plans for a European Union military mission in the Central African Republic envisage the deployment of hundreds of ground troops to buttress African and French forces struggling to prevent a bloodbath there, according to diplomats briefed on the proposal.

Under pressure from France, EU leaders last month asked the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, to draw up options for an EU intervention in the country to support French and African troops already there.

However, while EU member states backed a similar mission to Mali last year in just a couple months, some EU diplomats have been more skeptical about the goals of this mission, suggesting it could take longer to reach consensus—if one is reached at all.

Any mission would need to be approved by all 28 EU member states. Baronness Ashton is to present her plan for initial review on Jan. 20.


UN: Half of Central African Republic Needs Aid

From AP:

U.N. officials are warning the Security Council that Central African Republic is on the brink of a catastrophe, with half the population made homeless since ethnic warfare broke out.

U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman told the council Monday that about 2.2 million people throughout Central African Republic need assistance, about half the total population.

About half the people of Bangui have been driven from their homes, a total of about 513,000, he said. About 100,000 are jamming a makeshift camp at the airport near the capitol.

The Central African Republic has been plunged into chaos as the country’s Christian majority seeks revenge against the Muslim rebels, who seized power in a coup in March. Fighting between Christian and Muslim militias intensified in December.


France to send 1,000 troops to C. African Republic

France Central African RepublicFrom The AP:

France promised Tuesday to send 1,000 troops to Central African Republic amid warnings about the potential for genocide in the near-anarchic former French colony.

Whether the French forces will save lives largely depends on how far the foreign soldiers venture outside the capital, Bangui, to the lawless provinces where mostly Muslim rebels have been attacking Christian villages, and Christian militias have recently launched retaliatory attacks.

The French move comes less than a week after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned “the country is on the verge of genocide” and marks the second time this year that France has sent troops to a former colony in Africa.


France warns that the Central African Republic is ‘on the verge of genocide’

Bossangoa Central African RepublicFrom The Independent:

France has warned that the Central African Republic is “on the verge of genocide” amid escalating violence between Christians and Muslims and a humanitarian crisis.

The landlocked nation has descended into near-anarchy since the Seleka, a largely Muslim coalition of rebels, ousted President François Bozizé in March. Thousands of people have been killed, abducted or fled their homes amid the burning of villages in what some say is the worst violence CAR has ever seen.

“The country is on the verge of genocide,” the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French television station France 2. “France, CAR’s neighbours and the international community are worried. The United Nations will give permission to African forces, the African Union and France to intervene.”

His dire predictions come amid reports that CAR’s government, failing to keep a lid on its own troubles, is in talks with Joseph Kony, the fugitive warlord of the Lord’s Resistance Army, to surrender after more than two decades on the run.

Mr Fabius’s warnings echo those of the United Nations and other agencies in recent days, with the UN chief Ban Ki-moon calling for the urgent deployment of 6,000 UN peacekeepers to the diamond-rich country to bolster a force of 2,500 African soldiers that has proved largely ineffectual in curbing the violence. The UN Security Council is to vote next month on whether to dispatch UN and French troops to the strife-torn country. The US, though, has been more cautious in its assessment, terming the situation in CAR as “pre-genocidal”. It has pledged $40m (£25m) to bolster the African troops there, saying it does not yet see the need for UN peacekeepers.


Central African Republic: Aftermath images ‘shocking’

Photo from Amnesty International: In the Bouca area, approximately 485 structures - represented here by yellow dots - appear burned (November 2013)

From BBC News:


New satellite images from the Central African Republic show the “shocking” aftermath of recent violence, according to Amnesty International.

The country has been in crisis since a rebel takeover in March.

The human rights group says the images show significant fire damage to 485 homes in the northern town of Bouca.

Some of the thousands of people who have fled the violence can be seen massing in nearby Bossangoa, Amnesty says.

It is not publishing those images out of concern for the safety of the displaced people, it says.

“These new images offer a glimpse of physical scarring to homes and civic life visible from space, but the true scale of the human impact of the crisis cannot be captured by satellite,” said Aster van Kregten, from Amnesty International.


UN: Central African Republic on brink of collapse Reuters:

The Central African Republic is on the brink of collapse and the crisis is threatening to spread beyond its borders, senior U.N. officials said on Wednesday as they urged the Security Council to help fund and support an African Union peacekeeping force.

The landlocked former French colony – one of the poorest places on earth – has been plunged into chaos since the Seleka rebels seized power from President Francois Bozize four months ago, triggering a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Africa.

The African Union this month rolled an existing 1,100-strong regional peacekeeping mission, known as MICOPAX, into a new, larger AU peacekeeping force. The number of troops will be more than tripled to 3,600 and the force has an AU mandate to protect civilians, help stabilize the country and restore government.



Raped, plundered, ignored: Central Africa Republic, where only killers thrive

A child soldier: Seleka coalition rebel stands near the presidential palace in Bangui. The UN Security Council will hold urgent talks after a bloody coup in Central Africa sent ousted leader Francois Bozize fleeing across the border, and left 13 South African soldiers dead.From The Guardian:

[…] Moussa lives in the Camp Fleur district of Kaga-Bandoro, a town deep in the jungle of the CAR, which was tipped into anarchy when the Seleka rebels overthrew the government and seized power four months ago. The UN has declared the entire 4.6 million population to be victims and the country among its most dangerous destinations. Its refugee agency has called it the “most neglected crisis in the world”. Médecins Sans Frontières warns that the country had been effectively “abandoned to its fate”.

Although lootings and killings have been widely documented in the capital, Bangui, reports detailing the extent of the atrocities being committed in the country’s vast hinterland remain scant, particularly in the north, where the Seleka uprising began.

Roads are impassable due to banditry and the rainy season. Kaga-Bandoro, 300km north of the capital, can only be reached via a mud airstrip, landing straight into a rebel stronghold where the rule of law has collapsed completely. Evidence of human rights abuses in the far north are clear. Seleka rebels have repeatedly mass-raped the region’s women, say locals. Women are said to have been killed for refusing to have sex or surrender their food. Men have been summarily executed, tortured or have simply disappeared, witnesses say. Children have been recruited and, according to witnesses, provide a substantial proportion of the armed gangs. The Seleka rebels, it seems, are becoming more numerous and more violent. In the remote north, war crimes against civilians continue to be committed.