The forgotten war in the Central African Republic
75,000 people on the run from violence since the beginning of the year – Bishops call for ceasefire – More help needed (Press Release)
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) warns about a further escalation of violence in the Central African Republic, where 75,000 people were forced to flee from the clashes between different militia groups during the past three weeks alone. On Thursday, the human rights organization demanded more humanitarian aid for the country, which has been suffering from a civil war since 2012. “It is frightening how little attention is paid to the dramatic situation of the suffering civilian population. About half of the population is in desperate need of humanitarian aid,” said Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen. In 2017, only 36.5 percent of the 316 million USD needed for humanitarian aid were covered by international donations.
“We are witnessing a dramatic deterioration in the security situation in many regions of the country. The situation in the northwest has become especially catastrophic,” reported Delius. On December 29, 2017, clashes between heavily armed militias broke out near the city of Paoua. Since then, around 60,000 people were forced to flee. Most of them tried to find shelter in the city. Normally, Paoua has only 40,000 inhabitants. About 15,000 new refugees from the neighboring country arrived in Chad. In 2017, a total number of 180,000 people were forced to flee from the violence in the Central African Republic. This means that approximately 1.1 million of the country’s five million inhabitants are now on the run.
There have also been outbreaks of violence in other regions of the country. On Wednesday, seven people died in attacks and clashes in a part of Bangui that is mainly inhabited by members of the Muslim minority. The violence was triggered by a bomb attack and by a dispute between armed militiamen and traders, after the militiamen had tried to extort protection money.
For years, human rights organizations have been demanding the militias to be disarmed, but the government has not been able to do so. In the course of its annual meeting last Sunday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference sharply criticized the violence, demanding the militias to be disarmed as soon as possible. The bishops also appealed to all conflict parties to accept an unconditional ceasefire agreement. Currently, around 70 percent of the country is controlled by various armed militias fighting for power and control of resources.
Header Photo: United Nations Photo via Flickr