Magazine article New African

Desperate People Ask If Any Solutions Are in Sight?

Magazine article New African

Desperate People Ask If Any Solutions Are in Sight?

Article excerpt

The people of the Central African Republic (CAR) are undergoing a dire, yet almost entirely neglected humanitarian crisis, due to the conflict between the Seleka coalition--a ragtag of factions--and the CAR government. While the fighting between the rebels and the government has ended, with the rebels seizing power in March 2013, CAR citizens continue to suffer. Raluca Besliu explains how a bad situation needs to be urgently addressed

IT IS WIDELY BELIEVED THAT MEMBERS of the new rebel-led government in the Central African Republic are more interested in power and pursuing their own personal interests than in respecting the rights and fulfilling the demands of the people. Consequently, there are growing calls for the international community to provide assistance to the population, which is in increasingly desperate need.

The Seleka coalition (Seleka means "the alliance" in the local Sango language) was launched in August 2012 and is made up of breakaway factions from three former armed groups. It consists of Nureldine Adam's Wa Kodro Salute Patriotic Convention (CPSK); Dhaffane Mohamed Moussa's Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP): and a dissident faction of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) led by Michel Djotodja.

The first two rebel groups had reached peace agreements with the government and were supposed to cease fighting. The rebels claimed that President Bozize, who took power in 1003 through a coup and subsequently won elections in 2005 and 2011, had failed to uphold a 2007 peace agreement. They pledged to depose him unless he started negotiating with them.

After signing a ceasefire agreement in January 2013, the rebels recommenced fighting in March 2013, saying that Bozize had failed to respect its terms. Bozize fled the country once the Seleka coalition took Bangui and gained control of the presidential palace. Michel Djotodja assumed the presidency, but was only recognised by other African leaders as CAR's legitimate leader after forming a 105-member transitional council which elected him as its interim president in April 2013. The transitional council acts as a parliament.

While the fighting might have ended, according to the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, CAR remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with lawlessness and insecurity widespread and civilians (many of whom are displaced) living in fear and in desperate need of assistance. The UNHCR has reported receiving information about gross violations of human rights, including arbitrary arrest and illegal detention, torture, armed robbery, rape and abductions.

The CAR administration is limiting humanitarian agencies' access to many of the 200,000 internally displaced people and the 20,000 refugees, mainly Congolese and Sudanese, in the country. Aid workers currently only have limited access to parts of Bangui and some areas in the remote central and northern parts of the country.

While it is extremely difficult for humanitarian agencies to access the population in need, the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated over $7.1m to provide desperately needed assistance. The funds have been allocated for tam people, including nearly 600,000 children under the age of five. …

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