Violence Among Religious Groups Rises in Central African Republic

Bangui River
On Bangui River, photo by Afrika Force (Flickr)

A UN refugee agency reported that 210,000 people have been displaced in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic (CAR), after communal violence increased over a span of two weeks. Sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians that started in early December has driven out Central Africans from the colony. According to humanitarian organizations, at least 500 people have lost their lives.

According to Al Jazeera, Bangui has witnessed ongoing violence and there is widespread fear amongst the people there. The ongoing fight in the erstwhile French colony is between the Muslim Seleka rebels (who are originally from Sudan and Chad) and the Christian anti-Balaka (anti-machete, which is the weapon used by Seleka). Both sides have been looting and killing civilians. Those who have chosen to flee have traveled across the Congo River by boat.

While the United Nations has been criticized for its inadequate response to the crisis, secretary general Ban Ki Moon reassured refugees that the organization is trying to increase humanitarian aid. On December 17, the United Nations World Food Program resumed food support to approximately 40,000 people near the airport, after security concerns compelled the group to stop working over the weekend.

In the meantime, France has placed 1,600 troops in the Central African Republic to help African Union-led forces on the ground. According to France's European Affairs Minister Thierry Repentin, Belgium will be sending more troops by the end of January. European nations like Britain, Poland, Belgium and Spain have offered different kinds of assistance for the crisis in CAR.

International rights group, Amnesty International, has cautioned that more troops will be required to protect residents in the capital where war crimes are being committed.

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