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Genocide Emergency: CAR October 2021

Genocide Watch is issuing a Genocide Emergency Alert for the Central African Republic (CAR).

Central African refugee camp in Ndu on the border in the DRC - ALEXIS HUGUET - AFP via Getty Images

Before the runoff Presidential elections of December 2020, ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka militias formed an alliance, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) led by former President Bozizé, who ruled CAR from 2003 until 2013. Since then, fighting has surged between the CPC, which occupies two-thirds of the country, and the national army under President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. The army is reinforced by mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group. All sides are now committing grave human rights abuses against civilians, with increased targeting of Muslim communities.

In January 2021, the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) pushed back a series of offensives launched on Bangui by CPC rebels. The insurgent groups blockaded the capital, stopping humanitarian aid and using food deprivation as a weapon of war.

The CPC is responsible for many war crimes, which include use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. National security forces and allied Russian mercenaries are also committing war crimes according to the U.N., including looting, disappearances, indiscriminate killing, torture, and rape. On 15 February, national forces and Russian mercenaries attacked a Mosque in Bambari, and killed 17 people, including at least 6 civilians. Human rights violations increased more than 25 percent in 2021, with increased targeting by all sides of Muslim communities, particularly the Fulani ethnic group. The U.N. says that cases of sexual violence are five times higher in 2021 than in 2020. Ethnic hate speech is inciting hate crimes and massacres.

Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) says that more than one-third of the population in CAR, 1.3 million people, is displaced, including a high number from the Fulani minority. This number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has not been seen since the 2013 civil war. Close to 700,000 people are IDPs. Approximately the same number have fled to neighboring countries. Armed groups frequently attack IDP camps.

Since January 2021, attacks targeting aid workers, humanitarian convoys, and health facilities have surged, from 190 assaults in 2020 to 267 in the same period in 2021, resulting in deaths and dozens of centers destroyed. The rampant insecurity, exacerbated by the increasing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and the targeting of MINUSCA peacekeepers, has impeded humanitarian aid and medical care. These attacks forced several organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières, to halt their activities despite the fact that more than half of the population is dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Genocide Watch considers the CAR to be at Stage 7: Preparation and Stage 8: Persecution.

Genocide Watch recommends:

  • France, the African Union (AU), and the United States should offer stronger military, financial, and material assistance to President Touadéra’s government.

  • The CAR government should expel all Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group.

  • France, the U.N., and AU should pressure the Central African government to investigate and stop war crimes committed by state security forces and Russian mercenaries.

  • President Touadéra should negotiate with CPC rebels to halt their attacks on aid workers and health facilities.

  • President Touadéra, along with churches, and Muslim leaders, should campaign to stop hate speech.

  • The U.N. should increase the troops and equipment of MINUSCA to protect civilians and stop abuses by CAR security forces, Russian mercenaries, and ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka militias.

  • Because the CAR is a state party to the International Criminal Court, leaders of forces responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the CAR should be arrested, charged, and tried by the ICC.

CAR Alert as published 10-03-2021
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