UNITED NATIONS — The word genocide sends shivers down the spines of United Nations diplomats, resurrecting the memory of the world body’s failure to stem massacres in Rwanda nearly 20 years ago and, before that, in Bosnia.
Lately, in describing the carnage in the Central African Republic, diplomats have been swallowing that word even as it seems to be on the tip of their tongues. They are choosing other words. “Mass violence,” was Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s choice.
“History has taught us the worst may happen,” is how the French ambassador, Gérard Araud, referred to it.
“There have been atrocities committed already,” said Samantha Power, the American ambassador. (read more)
Central African Republic interim leader denies genocide threat
02 December 2013
Central African Republic president Michel Djotodia.Central African Republic transitional leader Michel Djotodia on Saturday denied European assertions that his country was on the brink of genocide and all-out inter-religious war.
The impoverished but mineral-rich nation of 4.6 million has descended into chaos since Djotodia led Seleka rebels, many of them from neighboring Chad and Sudan, to the riverside capital in March, ousting President Francois Bozize.
Though Djotodia has dissolved the rebel coalition, which has been accused of human rights abuses, his government's failure to stem the violence has prompted calls at the U.N. Security Council for international intervention to restore order. (read more)
Why Central African Republic is slipping close to catastrophe
By Paul Melly, Associate Fellow, Chatham House, Special to CNN
02 December 2013
Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? That's the question some are beginning to ask about a crisis that has been going on for most of this year but has only just burst through into the mainstream international mass media.
Warlords ruling the countryside by terror, a government that is almost toothless and the collapse of institutions have forced 0.4 million people to flee their homes and left a million dependent on aid.
And now reports of Muslim and Christian communities engaged in inter-communal violence have sparked concern about a slide into religious conflict. The "G-word" -- genocide -- has even been floated as a real risk by some observers. (read more)
Central African Republic: Forced Displacement From CAR Continuing Amid Widespread Lawlessness By UNHCR 13 August 2013
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 13 August 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
UNHCR is continuing to see forced displacement within and from Central African Republic. Inside CAR itself there are now an estimated 206,000 Internally Displaced People. Since mid-July we have seen an additional 4,125 refugees arriving in the Moissala area of southern Chad. (read more)
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC WFP: Despite risks, more staff on the ground in CAR 12 August 2013
Security is the main challenge for humanitarians in the Central African Republic — a month ago, Médecins Sans Frontières reported that United Nations and NGO staff had become targets of violence, and a few weeks later the country director of Caritas was shot. But the World Food Program has chosen to overcome the threat and is scaling up its operations inside the country, strengthening its presence on the ground, reopening suboffices and hiring more staff to deliver and monitor food aid. (read more)
ICC Prosecutor voices concern about ongoing serious crimes in Central African Republic By UN News Centre 7 August 2013
7 August 2013 – The prosecutor of the world’s first permanent court set up to try those accused of genocide and war crimes today voiced her deep concern about the worsening security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and reports of serious crimes being committed there.
“My office will do its part in investigating and prosecuting those most responsible for the commission of serious crimes, if necessary,” Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), said in a statement. (read more)
Thirteen dead in Central African Republic gunbattle By Paul-Marin Ngoupana 15 April 2013
BANGUI - Clashes between fighters who seized power in Central African Republic last month and youths loyal to the ousted former president has killed at least 13 people and left dozens wounded, medical sources said on Monday.
The fighting on Sunday was the heaviest in the capital Bangui since a grouping of five rebel movements known as Seleka seized the city on March 24, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee to neighboring Cameroon.
"Following yesterday's fighting, we've recorded 13 dead by gunshot ... and 52 wounded," said Romain Guitinzia, director of the hospital that received victims of the violence.
A previous provisional death toll had listed seven people killed, including three who died when a shell struck their church. The new figures were confirmed by the local Red Cross. (read more)
Genocide Warning: Central African Republic 04 April 2013 By Katelyn Nawoyski
In 1996, Ange-Félix Patassé – from a northern ethnic group, the Kaba – was elected President. He was re-elected in 1999. The Yakoma, from the old ruling elite, rebelled. The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic – called MINURCA – attempted to oversee “peace accords” between the Yakama and Patassé’s Kaba. But despite the UN’s good intentions, MINURCA lacked all three conditions for a successful UN Peace Keeping Operation (PKO):
There must be a peace to keep.
The PKO must have the Mandate and the material means to enforce it.
The PKO must be backed by the UN’s political will to support the PKO financially, with enough well-trained personnel to enforce the peace, and with robust Rules of Engagement.
After a failed coup attempt in May 2001, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada reported government sponsored reprisal arrests and killings of Yakoma in Bangui. Many Yakoma were forced to flee to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to escape the killings.
A bloodless coup ensued in March 2003 when François Bozizé took power. Bozizé was then elected in May 2005. Two groups of rebels – one based in the northeast (called the Seleka Coalition) and one based in the northwest near the border with Sudan and Chad – organized to oust Bozizé.
Seleka forces entered Bangui and took the Presidential Palace on March 24, 2013, forcing President Bozizé to flee the country. Seleka’s leader – Michel Djotodia – declared himself President.
Djotodia announced he would also be Minister of Defense. The US State Department expressed concern at the undemocratic nature of the coup d’état.
The Red Cross reported on April 1, 2013, that 78 bodies had been found during the week after Djotodia came to power, and The Guardian reported that Djotodia used child soldiers who were killed during the coup. The Guardian documented first-hand accounts from eyewitnesses that Seleka child soldiers appeared to be drugged, and some were crying for their mothers before they were killed. Use of child soldiers is a war crime. South Africa – which had sent 298 soldiers to aid Bozizé’s government – lost thirteen men. The UN Security Council condemned Djotodia’s coup. The African Union sanctioned Seleka leaders and suspended the CAR’s participation in the African Union.
Genocide Watch has issued a Genocide Alert for the Central African Republic. Genocide Watch recommends that the follow actions be taken immediately:
The Central African Republic is a state-party to the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court. If Seleka leaders used child soldiers, they should be charged and tried by the ICC.
The Central African Republic should not be re-admitted into the African Union until it holds free and fair elections for public officials.
Uganda has withdrawn its forces from the Central African Republic in the hunt for Joseph Kony, who is believed to be hiding in the CAR. The UN should demand that the CAR cooperate fully in Kony’s capture for trial by the International Criminal Court.
Rebels with the Seleka coalition on Tuesday arrested a man who was suspected of looting a house in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.
Rebel Chief Suspends Constitution for 3 Years By Adam Nossiter 26 March 2013
DAKAR, Senegal — The leader of the rebel group that seized power in the Central African Republic, Michel Djotodia, announced Monday that he was suspending his country’s Constitution, dissolving its Parliament and initiating a three-year “consensual transition.”
Residents reported a precarious calm returning to the capital, Bangui, on Tuesday with less shooting and looting than on previous days, and some markets reopening. But there were also human rights violations by the rebel group, Seleka, according to an activist there. (read more)
France: Why intervene in Mali and not Central African Republic? By Amit Singh, Think Africa Press 5 February 2013
When France received requests from two of its former African colonies to intervene in their domestic conflicts these past couple of months, its replies could not have been more different.
Mali's calls were answered with a swift and affirmative response, and France found itself intervening in Africa once again, having been involved in conflicts in Libya and the Ivory Coast in 2011. France sent 2,500 troops who, together with the Malian army, have so far retaken several strategically important towns and are continuing to sweep north. (read more)
Residents flee a rebel advance in the Central African Republic earleir this year. Photograph: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images
Central African Republic: Troops Kill Rebel Leader’s Bodyguard By The Associated Press 21 January 2013
Ugandan troops in the Central African Republic have killed the chief bodyguard of Joseph Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan Army officer said Monday. The bodyguard, a commander known only as Binani, was killed Friday, said the officer, Col. Felix Kulayigye. An African Union force, led by Ugandan officers, is hunting for Mr. Kony and is being advised by American Special Forces units. It was not clear whether Mr. Kony, who has eluded capture for more than two decades, was with rebels who fled the attack in which Binani was killed, Colonel Kulayigye said. Mr. Kony, whose rebellion in Uganda spread to neighboring countries, was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As one of the least developed, poorest countries of the world, the Central African Republic (CAR), (ranked 217 out of 225 nations in GDP per capita, $800 per year) suffers an endless humanitarian crisis. It has the world’s eighth highest rate of maternal deaths in childbirth, and the fifth highest infant mortality rate before age five. It has been largely forgotten by the rest of the world.
Since its independence from France in 1960, the political situation in CAR has always been unstable. The first President, David Dacko, established a one party state. Jean-Bedel Bokassa seized power from 1966 until 1979, renamed the CAR the Central African Empire, declared himself Emperor for Life, and ruled with cruelty and barbarity. A military coup, backed by the French, restored David Dacko to power in 1979. After two years, Dacko was overthrown by Andre Kolingba, who finally announced a move toward parliamentary democracy in 1991.
When the country’s first democratic elections were held in 1993, Ange-Félix Patassé became president. In March 2003, the French backed General Bozizé launched a surprise attack against Patassé, who was out of the country. Libyan troops and some 1,000 soldiers of Bemba's Congolese rebel organization failed to stop Bozizé, who took control of the country and thus succeeded in overthrowing Patassé. Bozizé was reelected in the 2011 elections.
Since 2003, Bozizé’s government has been in conflict with several rebel groups in a so-called’ bush war’. Because of the unstable situation, there has been massive displacement of people, both within the country and to neighboring countries. According to the 2012 UNHCR country operations profile, an estimated 130,000 CAR refugees have sought refuge in Cameroon, Chad and Sudan, while an estimated 176,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain within the CAR, most dependent on UN assistance.
Some progress towards ending the bush war was made in 2008, when two rebel groups APRD and UFDR signed peace accords with the government and a peace process of disarmament, demobilization and social reinsertion (DDR) was launched. In 2011, another rebel group CPJP signed a ceasefire agreement. However, the political situation and peace process in CAR is still unpredictable: in January 2012 the APRD said it was pulling out of the peace process because of the arrest of its chief, Jean-Jacques Demafouth (link article).
The CAR has also become a refuge for the Lord’s Resistance Army, led since 1987 by the mass murderer, Joseph Kony of Uganda. Kony is notorious for abducting child soldiers and girl sex slaves. Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005. His forces have dwindled to around 150 men. Kony is currently being hunted by a US backed African Union commando unit. The CAR has become Kony’s haven because of its ineffective police and lack of infrastructure. More information about the LRA can be found on the website of the Enough Project. Genocide Watch supports the work of the Enough Project and advocates the arrest and trial of Kony and his henchmen by the ICC.
Another pressing security threat in the CAR is the Front Populaire Pour le Redressement (FPR), a Chadian armed rebel group backed by Sudan that has carried out sporadic attacks in northern CAR since 2008. In January, an offensive by armed forces of both CAR and Chad was launched to oust the FPR from its stronghold in CAR and to capture its rebel leader. According to humanitarian officials, this campaign has displaced thousands of people within the CAR and has increased widespread insecurity (link article).
Because crimes against humanity by the LRA and FPR have led to widespread terror and forced displacement, Genocide Watch considers CAR at stage 6: potential massacres.