A prolonged conflict in the impoverished, mineral-rich Central African Republic (CAR) has seen Christian and Muslim armed groups fighting with foreign troops struggling to keep peace.
The crisis in the Central African Republic began in late 2012, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels launched attacks that eventually overthrew Christian president Francois Bozize, installing Michel Djotodia (pictured). Djotodia resigned in Jan. 2014 amid a conflict in which both Christians and Muslims have committed violence.
While both Muslim and Christian fighters have committed war atrocities, the ongoing CAR conflict doesn't appear to involve genocide or ethnic cleansing, according to a new UN report obtained June 5 by the AP. The report goes against comments made in Feb. by the UN refugees chief that "ethnic-religious cleansing" was a danger in CAR.
"The fact that there is an anti-Muslim propaganda from certain non-Muslim quarters does not mean that genocide is being planned or that there is any conspiracy to commit genocide or even a specific intent to commit genocide." UN report
The UN estimated as of April 1 that more than 650,000 people remained displaced by violence and some 290,000 people had fled to neighboring countries. About half of CAR's 2.2 million people need some form of humanitarian aid, the UN said, and about 2,000 have died from the conflict since March 2013.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) temporarily suspended non-emergency care work in the CAR on May 5. It said the government had not condemned the killing of 16 people at one of its clinics. MSF employees have faced 115 security incidents, including 31 armed robberies, since Dec. 2012 in the CAR.
French troops handed over control of security at the CAR's main airport to EU peacekeepers, who were beginning significant operations in the country. By June, the EU peacekeeping forces should have up to 1,000 soldiers in the country to help out the 2,000 French and 5,000 African Union troops already in CAR.
In April, The UN voted to create a CAR peacekeeping force called MINUSCA. MINUSCA, comprised of up to 10,000 troops and 1,800 police, will take over from African Union troops in Sep. 2014. The UN also began a new appeal -- separate from a Feb. $547 million appeal-- to collect $274 million to aid refugees.
Rebels attacked a Catholic church compound in a town 236 miles northwest of the capital Bangui. At least 20 were later reported killed. Between 4,000 and 6,000 people have taken refuge at the site. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was supposed to visit the town July 8, a week after a grenade attack there injured seven French troops.
"There is no future for the Central African Republic if there is no ceasefire… These groups must accept a peace process. They need first to accept the ceasefire that is indispensable to peaceful development in the country." Jean-Yves Le Drian, French defense minister
Authorities on June 4 told mobile phone operators in CAR to suspend text messaging indefinitely after a group spread messages calling for a nationwide civil disobedience campaign to protest ongoing violence. The mass messages asked people to remain at home until militant groups are completely disarmed.
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