Background

Since the deadly civil war that took place during 2013 and 2014, the Central African Republic (CAR) has faced continued turmoil as the government has struggled to maintain control over the state. The violence, re-surging in 2016 and developing through 2017 and 2018, stems from the division of the country by two armed militia groups, known as the ex-Seleka and anti-balaka.

The Seleka group was initially composed of an alliance of militia rebels, and led the charge to overrun the government of President Bozize, in 2013. Dissolved following the takeover and instillation of Michel Djistodia as the new president, the remaining rebel groups became known as ex-Seleka.

Anti-balaka refers to an alliance of militia groups, formed in opposition to ex-Seleka forces and President Djotodia. Aspects of the conflict stem from religious opposition. Ex-Seleka rebels supporting the Muslim faith and anti-balaka rebels in support of Christianity.

The UN Children’s Fund reports fighting between a dozen or so armed groups over cattle routes and lands rich in diamonds, gold and uranium. The armed groups often target civilians rather than each other, attacking health and education facilities and personnel, mosques and churches, as well as sites where displaced people have taken shelter.

Ongoing Conflict

Conflict in the region has led to increased displacement across CAR. As of September 2018, there are 642,842 internally displaced persons (IDP) in the country, and 575,258 CAR refugees in neighbouring countries, the majority of those in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad.

An attack on an internally displaced persons camp in the town of Alindao left 37 people dead on 15 November 2018. The attack was attributed to the Union for Peace (UPC), a faction of the ex-Seleka militia group.

“This vicious cycle of repeated attacks against civilians is unacceptable. The gains made by the humanitarian community in providing life-saving assistance and reducing vulnerabilities are undermined. Civilians want safety, peace and a future.” – Najat Rochdi, Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic

As of end October, over 338 incidents against humanitarian workers have been recorded making the CAR one of the most dangerous places on earth for humanitarian workers.

Priority needs from aid organisations in the Alindao region include shelter, water and sanitation, health and protection. Continued attacks lead to retaliation, further disturbing aid from reaching displaced persons, and endangering the lives of humanitarian workers.

 

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Photo courtesy of UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe via Flickr

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