World

Off The Radar, The Central African Republic Is Descending Into Chaos

Humanitarian organizations and media reports are warning that the Central African Republic could be on the verge of genocide.

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Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? Country is teetering on the brink #CAR #Violence - CNN http://t.co/S5UdntHx6h

Igor Catran

@IgorCatran

Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? Country is teetering on the brink #CAR #Violence - CNN

http://t.co/S5UdntHx6h

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#CAR crisis is a threat to regional peace & security that cannot be left to Africa alone to resolve says @CrisisGroup http://t.co/54gjeUd9gk

Laura Jepson IMC

@LauraJepson

#CAR crisis is a threat to regional peace & security that cannot be left to Africa alone to resolve says @CrisisGroup http://t.co/54gjeUd9gk

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#CAR civilians at the mercy of armed groups burning entire villages, committing murder, extortions & kidnappings

UN Refugee Agency

@Refugees

#CAR civilians at the mercy of armed groups burning entire villages, committing murder, extortions & kidnappings

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The CAR is a mineral-rich country the size of France. It has been plagued by poverty and a series of coups, mutinies, and conflicts since gaining independence from French colonial rule in 1960.

This latest political conflict has pitted the Seleka — Muslim rebels that include fighters from neighboring Chad and Sudan — against the previous government and now, with sectarianism on the rise, against the majority Christian population.

Foreign warnings of "genocide" here in CAR widely viewed as alarmist. But the amount of fear, chaos and communal distrust here is chilling.

andrew harding

@BBCAndrewH

Foreign warnings of "genocide" here in CAR widely viewed as alarmist. But the amount of fear, chaos and communal distrust here is chilling.

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In March, Seleka rebels, like those pictured here, seized power from President François Bozizé, who then fled the country.

Joe Penney / Reuters

Among the political grievances were reports of Bozizé's corrupt and autocratic rule.

Since then, Seleka rebels have been raiding and razing with impunity. The Guardian, for example, has reported on cases of Seleka rebels throwing people into rivers filled with crocodiles and bludgeoning women to death while in search of water.

ICYMI - the most popular story on our site this week: What a war crime looks like from space. http://t.co/05AqgQ4ecH

Stephen Northfield

@snorthfield45

ICYMI - the most popular story on our site this week: What a war crime looks like from space.

http://t.co/05AqgQ4ecH

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Exact numbers of dead are difficult to determine because it is too dangerous to access rural areas where most of the killings occur, a U.N. spokeswoman told the BBC.

In Bassangoa, a Christian area north of the capital, several thousand Christians are seeking refuge in churches like this one, while about 40,000 Christians have reportedly been displaced.

More than a million are reportedly now dependent on external aid, while hunger, malnutrition, and sexual assault is rampant.

Yesterday, Amnesty International called on the U.N. to deploy a robust peacekeeping force to protect civilians in CAR and to help assist the existing 2,600 African Union (AU) forces on the ground.

Joe Penney / Reuters / Reuters

Congolese peacekeepers from the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC).

Rare @amnestyonline call for "robust" peacekeeping in #CAR. Amnesty always v. careful re possible use of force http://t.co/d75mtuxUYi

José Luis D໚z

@jldiaz1

Rare @amnestyonline call for "robust" peacekeeping in #CAR. Amnesty always v. careful re possible use of force http://t.co/d75mtuxUYi

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The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote this week on whether to authorize deployment of a reinforced peacekeeping force.

Meanwhile, France announced last week that it would send 1,000 additional soldiers to CAR. France, which previously controlled CAR, already has 400 troops on the ground with a mandate to protect French nationals.

The worsening situation in CAR is raising fears that the conflict could spread to neighbors like Chad, Sudan, and Uganda, fueling further fighting in countries that have also long suffered from political instability and conflicts.

AP Photo

People fleeing violence flood the airport tarmac in Bangui, Central African Republic.

Dep. #UNSG tells #UNSC that #CentralAfricanRepublic is potential "breeding ground for extremists." Failing states are all states' problem.

Samantha Power

@AmbassadorPower

Dep. #UNSG tells #UNSC that #CentralAfricanRepublic is potential "breeding ground for extremists." Failing states are all states' problem.

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Djotodia has officially dissolved the rebel coalition, but he has done little to stem the violence. On Saturday, he denied that the country was on the brink of genocide or interreligious war, according to news reports.

Joe Penney / Reuters

"There's no genocide, there is not even an interreligious war. All of this is made up to manipulate the opinion of the international community," he said.

In November, former actress and model Mia Farrow visited CAR as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Her trip gave the country's plight a boost of visibility.

.@MiaFarrow, #UNICEF Goodwill Amb. on her 3rd visit 2 #CAR: time to act now; violence & instability worsening daily

UN Geneva

@unisgeneva

.@MiaFarrow, #UNICEF Goodwill Amb. on her 3rd visit 2 #CAR: time to act now; violence & instability worsening daily

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Through a child's eyes. #CentralAfricanRepublic

mia farrow

@MiaFarrow

Through a child's eyes. #CentralAfricanRepublic

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I see no evidence of any functioning government in #CentralAfricanRepublic

mia farrow

@MiaFarrow

I see no evidence of any functioning government in #CentralAfricanRepublic

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Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at miriam.berger+done@buzzfeed.com.

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