By P.V. Durga:
History has repeatedly shown us that whenever there are two conflicting groups in a country, the help that comes is shrouded with ulterior motives. Ever heard about the problem in Central African Republic? Don’t be surprised if you haven’t, the world seems to be apathetic to the issue, because apparently there is no “benefit” in helping out the country.
When the Seleka, a group composed of the Muslim minority, led by Michel Djotodia overthrew the corrupt government under Francois Bozize through a coup in March 2013, little did they know that the worst was yet to come. The Djotodia regime was no better. The Muslim minorities are paying the price, and are caught in a “civil war“, facing oppression at the hands of Christian group anti-Balaka, since January 2014. Both Bozize and Djotodia were exiled from the country.
Ever since, Muslims have been killed, and others have been “forced to flee their homes“. The ones who manage to escape into the forests “die of hunger, diseases and exposure” whilst hiding. Muslim women are being sexually exploited and have been held captive. While there is a transitional government led by Catherine Samba Panza, which has the support of the African Union as well as French troops, atrocities continue to persist. The number of internal displacements has increased, with 50,000 being registered already this year.
However, some latest developments offer a glimmer of hope. There were opinions that the UN’s interference would bring in the much needed resources and expertise to handle the situation, and it did intervene with a mission abbreviated as MINUSCA. UN officials have claimed that “historic consultations” inclusive of the citizens of the Central African Republic have been held, and that the elections at the end of this year would seal the deal. Victimized women have been rescued as well. Also, the International Criminal Court took up a second round of investigations into the situation in 2012 upon a referral by the transitional government. Bozize and Djotodia also seem to be contemplating reconciliation, although it is being criticized as one that is filled with lust for power. A Catholic mission has been lending a helping hand to the victimized Muslims too.
While the USA has been providing logistic and financial support to the African Union for its peacekeeping mission, we need to question whether mere institutional support would be the solution to end the problem, considering that some peacekeepers in the past have been responsible for more violence by attacking the Anti-Balaka. The mission simply cannot end with political eyewash through elections, ignoring the quality of governance that would follow. The UN, whose strings are pulled by the “superpowers”, needs to seriously revamp its case-by-case approach, and make an example to the world that atrocities against minorities are intolerable. There is an urgent need to break this selective silence of countries because vested interests cannot play a role in according importance to the dignity of human life. More than institutional aid, what the Central African Republic needs is the political will of its people and leaders.