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CAR - Developments - 2017

Fighting broke out in a number of towns across the country again in early 2017, following a period of relative calm in 2016. About 1.2 million people about a quarter of the population have now lost their homes due to the violence, according to the UN. Renewed fighting in the CAR targetted civilians after years of power struggles between ethnic factions. By May 2017 nearly a million people had been displaced in what the UN called one of the worlds most forgotten crises.

Central African Republic descended into chaos in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian nation, ousting then-President Francois Bozize and sparking a backlash from Christian militias. The MINUSCA mission had 13,000 UN peacekeepers on the ground, but some civilians complain that it does not do enough to protect them against dozens of armed groups.

In 2016, CAR voters elected an official government, but its power and control does not extend outside the capital, Bangui. Instead, the country has become increasingly polarized along religious and ethnic lines. Fourteen armed rebel groups are now active in the country. There are frequent clashes in which the civilian population is caught between the fronts. In the region around Koui alone, 15,000 people had to flee their homes in early 2017.

On 04 January 2017, according to MINUSCA, its peacekeepers on patrol were returning from the town of Koui when they were attacked by about 50 assailants at about 60 km (37 miles) west of Obo, which had two peacekeepers killed by unknown insurgents.

The President of the Central African Republic briefed the Security Council 16 March 2017 on the latest developments in his country. President Faustin Archange Touadera emphasized the importance of maintaining an open dialogue with all parties, noting that 14 armed groups would be represented at an upcoming national meeting. He looked forward to discussing the calls for his Government to grant amnesty to perpetrators of atrocities and remained open to an exchange of ideas, but reiterated that the national justice system would do its part to ensure accountability. People have suffered too much during this crisis and are rightfully calling for justice, he said.

By March 2017 local conflicts were proliferating with surprising alliances forming in which nationalist and foreign groups opposed each other with dangerous ethnic connotations. Insecurity was the greatest problem for the civilian population, as armed groups ruled more than 60 per cent of the territory with total impunity. There had been no progress in restoring the effective authority of the State outside of Bangui. More than half the population was in acute need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 470,000 people were internally displaced.

On 04 April 2017 the United Nations Security Council expressed its support for the efforts of President Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic (CAR) to restore State authority as well as for the African Union-led mediation initiative to find a political solution to the situation in the crisis-torn country. In a Presidential Statement, the 15-member body renewed its support for CAR President Touadera and welcomed his significant role to stabilize the country, promote peace and reconciliation, advance plans for disarmament, enable long-term development, and build the capacity of state institutions and basic service delivery, with the support of regional and international partners.

The Council urged armed groups in particular the Front patriotique pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique and the Unit pour la paix en Centrafrique to honour their commitment to the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation process. It deplored all attacks against civilians and expressed deep concern over the humanitarian situation in the country.

By May 2017 resurging violence in the Central African Republic had left full villages emptied and destroyed. Aid workers warned that the country may be sliding back into conflict. More than 100,000 people have fled their homes since September 2016.

The burned out houses were charred, with their thatched roofs totally gone. Inside the homes, evidence of a left-behind life is scattered throughout in the ashes: pots, pans, and bicycle frames. Other homes are looted with the doors kicked in and papers torn up. In the north, predominantly Christian anti-balaka rebels used the village of Bambara as a base. But after the soldiers stole some cows from nearby nomadic people, an ex-Seleka militia came for revenge, killing about 25 people and burning more than 600 houses.

A new armed group had killed at least 50 civilians by January 2017 in a growing campaign to control parts of the northwest. Doctors without Borders said civilians are being attacked in the country at levels not seen in years. The spiraling violence left civilians trapped in the crossfire, kicked out of their homes and cut off from their fields and livelihoods.

Armed groups fighting for control of a central province in the Central African Republic targeted civilians in apparent reprisal killings over the past three months, Human Rights Watch said 02 May 2017. The attacks have left at least 45 people dead and at least 11,000 displaced. Since late 2016, two factions of the predominantly Muslim Seleka armed group have clashed heavily in the volatile Ouaka province: the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (lUnion pour la Paix en Centrafrique, UPC), consisting mostly of ethnic Peuhl, and the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique, FPRC), which has aligned itself with the anti-balaka the main armed group once fighting the Seleka.



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