By Chad Rickaby, Blog Writer
The Central African Republic requires immediate attention from, and action by, the global community. Their internal conflict – simplified to be mainly between Christian militias operating under the name ‘anti balaka’, and the Muslim (ex)‘seleka’ group (claimed to have disbanded, but many members remain armed and violent) – has created a rapidly deteriorating and potentially catastrophic situation in the country. With the CIA estimating approximately 85 percent of the population being of Christian (or closely associated) faith, the potential for genocide, or ethnic cleansing, is extremely high. Numerous human rights abuses have already been reported, and neighbouring countries are seeing a dramatic influx of refugees attempting to escape the violence. The mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) focuses on working with the transitional government in place and believes critical emphasis must be placed on the protection of civilian human rights in the area. It is vital that the mandate be extended to include policy to mitigate the impact that refugees will have on the vulnerable nations surrounding the Central African Republic.
The situation in the Central African Republic is extremely vulnerable, and is likely to deteriorate into genocide, if the international community does not act with haste. The ethnic divide in the country, which has existed historically for many generations is worsening, and will continue to destabilize the region. This sustained divide, and the multiple military coups involved, have significantly damaged the ability for a centralized state government to gain control and mitigate the differences between these diverse groups. While the continued focus on human rights and the work with stakeholders to establish a centralized power is encouraging, the lack of policy in place to mitigate the effect of migration on neighbouring states is not. According to the UNHCR, nearly 200,000 Central Africa Republic refugees have fled to the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This influx of people works to severely destabilize these nation states, already weakened by domestic issues of their own. Additionally, another 930,000 people remain internally displaced leaving them extremely vulnerable to further violence, as the country’s current situation continues to deteriorate and becomes more and more violent every day.
This mass migration destabilizes already institutionally weak neighbouring countries and creates an extremely dangerous potential for genocide in these countries, as well as further feeding the already high potential within the Central African Republic. For this reason it is vital that policy be created either through the extension on the MINUSCA mandate, African Union initiatives, or other international bodies to mitigate the risk caused by the mass migration of refugees. These migrations leave countries volatile and leave large populations very vulnerable to genocide or ethnic cleansing. This may occur by continuing work to secure the capital of Bangui as a safe zone for refugees or increasing the capacity for the already overwhelmed refugee camps in the area. Whichever policy is decided, it is crucial that the international community, in cooperation with the transitional government and the stakeholders in the Central African republic, come together to mitigate this unnerving potential for massive regional destabilization and increasing prospective for genocide.