Mass Violence and Imminent Threat to Civilians in Central African Republic
Oct 31, 2013
The Central African Republic (CAR) is rapidly sliding into anarchy. Civilians in many parts of the country are at severe risk of mass atrocity crimes resulting from increasing inter-communal and sectarian violence and reprisals. Compounding this is an increasingly dire humanitarian situation that threatens the stability of the entire country. The international community must act quickly in order to protect civilians and prevent atrocities against them. Establishing security, protecting and expanding access for humanitarians, and investing in community-based violence reduction, conflict prevention and peacebuilding programs to address interreligious and intercommunal tensions between communities should be immediate priorities.
The past few weeks have seen a significant increase in systematic violence against civilians, attacks on religious institutions, and increased pressure on humanitarian organizations’ ability to operate. CAR has witnessed civil strife for decades, but renewed displacement and increased violence have exacerbated the pre-existing chronic emergency conditions. Key indicators of devolution and continued violence against civilians include:
- Increase in interreligious and intercommunal nature of violence. Attacks that were once rebel-driven are now taking on more organized ethnic and sectarian tones.
- Massive displacement. There are close to 400,000 internally displaced persons within CAR. Just under 220,000 refugees that have fled the country. 65,000 of these refugees fled as a result of the most recent conflict.
- 1.6 million children and families are suffering from food shortages.
- Rape, arbitrary killings, kidnapping, forced amputations and other abuses, and pillaging and looting of villages have been committed by ex-Seleka and other forces.
- Children, particularly girls, exposed to a wide range of sexual and gender based violence.
- New counter-militias forming, motivated by climate of fear and retribution. Hundreds of armed youth are among the ranks, many of whom were subject to forced recruitment.
- Limited UN presence outside the capital Bangui and large humanitarian coverage gaps due to insufficient security and protection.
As advocates and organizations dedicated to the prevention of violent conflict and mass atrocities, we are deeply disturbed by the violence that is plaguing CAR. The most recent wave is tipping the situation beyond control and is taking a trajectory towards large-scale interreligious and intercommunal violence.
We urge the international community to act swiftly to prevent atrocities and ensure civilian protection. The international community must rapidly expand its presence in the country, extend protection beyond a few selected sites, and allocate the resources necessary to address the complex and protracted nature of humanitarian needs.
The Enough Project
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jesuit Refugee Service
The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
Save the Children
Search For Common Ground
STAND: The Student-led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
United to End Genocide