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Central African Republic: Still A Forgotten Crisis
June 23, 2014 (140623)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"The crisis that has plagued the Central African Republic (CAR) since
December 2012, particularly predation by both authorities and armed
groups, has led to the collapse of the state. ... Ending this cycle
of predatory rule and moving peacefully to a state that functions and
can protect its citizens requires CAR's international partners to
prioritise, alongside security, economic revival and the fight
against corruption and illegal trafficking. Only a close partnership
between the government, UN and other international actors, with
foreign advisers working alongside civil servants in key ministries,
can address these challenges." - International Crisis Group
The phenomenon of "forgotten crises," which find it difficult to
attract world attention and funding, is so pervasive that the
European Union has an official rating system(Central African Republic
is one of the top four, along with Myanmar, Western Sahara, and
Chad). In CAR, a UN peacekeeping force, finally approved in April,
will not be in place until September. Funding for humanitarian needs,
as noted in the excerpt below from a report by the UN's Office of
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is only at 32% of the
needs for the year. And, as a new report from International Crisis
Group notes, the need is not only for security and humanitarian aid,
but also for joint national and international involvement in
fundamental issues of reconstructing a collapsed state.
There are obviously no guarantees of success in such endeavors,
despite apparent consensus on what needs to be done and the fact that
the complicating narrative of "counterterrorism" is not a
consideration. But a sure way to guarantee failure and continued
crisis is to continue with the pattern of "too little, too late."
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from newly released
reports by OCHA and the International Crisis Group.
For background on the UN mission in CAR, see
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on the Central African Republic,
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and security issues,
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Central African Republic Crisis and its Regional Humanitarian Impact:
An overview of needs and requirements
UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
June 20, 2014
direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/novl7qe
[excerpts only. Full report available at link above is 32 pages.]
Over the past year, the Central African Republic (CAR) has
experienced a major political and protection crisis that has affected
nearly its entire population. Since the overthrow of the Government
by the Seleka rebel movement in March 2013, the northern and western
regions of the country have seen intense and unprecedented violence
against civilians and minorities. In December 2013, the violence in
and around Bangui escalated when the anti-balaka militia attacked the
capital and violence ensued between them and the ex-Seleka.
The security situation in CAR continues to deteriorate. With
increasingly radical anti-balaka and ex-Seleka rhetoric and violence,
as well as renewed spikes in violence along the northern border,
tensions are on the rise. There is a real risk the country could be
partitioned into two or more areas, controlled by various factions of
Growing threats directed at Muslims in west and central parts of the
country have led the majority to leave these areas. Compounded by
what appears to be an instrumentalization and manipulation of
communities by political and commercial leaders, there has been a
marked shift from what was seen as opposition between anti-balaka and
ex-Seleka at the beginning of the year to serious hostility between
self-proclaimed representatives of Christian and Muslim communities.
Towns that used to have people of diverse religions have been emptied
of their Muslim communities.
Community tensions and sectarian violence are on the rise. Around
20,000 people from minority communities remain trapped in 16
different locations in CAR due to the risk of attack. They are unable
to move freely beyond confined neighbourhoods, are unable to maintain
jobs, and have limited access to schools, healthcare, etc.
More than a million people - about a quarter of CAR's population,
have fled their homes for safety. As of 2 June 2014, 557,000 people
remained displaced inside CAR. A quarter of these people are living
in Bangui. Since December 2013, some 250,000 people too scared to
stay in CAR have fled to at least 14 countries in West and Central
Africa. The highest concentration of people has fled to Chad,
Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of
Congo (Congo), in that order. Thousands of people continue to escape
CAR every week. Many are still hiding in the bush in fear for their
lives, surviving on leaves and roots.
Those who have fled are often traumatized, malnourished and
dehydrated. Many have walked for weeks and taken refuge in the bush
along the way to hide from armed groups. Some have been exposed to
atrocities and survived violence. The majority are women and
children, as the men in the families often remain in CAR to protect
family assets. Many people fleeing CAR have serious medical needs
stemming from injuries during attacks or displacement. The rate of
malnutrition and infectious disease is high. They find themselves
stranded in unfamiliar surroundings with no social or economic
support, and are largely dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Many families sheltering those who have fled the violence are also
struggling to cope with the added strain of hosting displaced people
in their homes. The sudden and large influx of people from CAR has
had serious social, economic and security ramifications for
neighbouring countries and has strained already limited resources in
host countries and communities. Host communities along the border
with CAR have been exposed to increased insecurity and in some
situations have also been temporarily displaced due to incursions and
looting by armed groups from CAR, as has been the case in some border
villages in Cameroon.
What stands in the way of responding to these needs?
As of 4 June, the response [to the international humanitarian appeal
for] CAR had only received 32% of total financial requirements for
2014 ($565 million), despite pledges of more support. Neighbouring
countries affected by the crisis have received even less support -
Cameroon: 10% of $117 million; Chad: 15% of $527 million; DRC: 19% of
$832 million; Congo: 10% of $14 million.
The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been one of the main
donors for the response to the CAR crisis and its impact on the
region. So far in 2014, close to US$30 million of CERF funding has
been allocated to support the humanitarian response in CAR and
neighbouring countries, including $20 million to CAR, $4 million to
Chad, $4 million to Cameroon and $2 million to Congo. In 2013, the
CERF allocated $8 million to meet the needs of CAR refugees arriving
The lack of funding to date has severely impeded the response to
humanitarian needs. Although there is capacity to respond to the
effects of the crisis, the lack of funding has resulted in
significant gaps across all sectors.
If more resources are not committed to the CAR crisis, humanitarian
partners will be unable to step up their response. Faced with budget
constraints, partners have been unable to provide the necessary
assistance to people made vulnerable by the crisis. In Cameroon, for
example, the inability to provide food assistance where people need
it because of lack of resources has forced more people to move into
If we fail to protect people in CAR now, people will be further
weakened and traumatized, and more lives will be lost. Since May,
those arriving in neighbouring countries are in a much worse state
than those who fled to the country a few months ago. After weeks of
even months of walking through the bush, hiding from armed groups and
surviving only on leaves and roots found along the way, they are
extremely vulnerable, exhausted, sick and traumatized. In Cameroon,
six in 10,000 children under five die every day, a mortality rate
well above the emergency threshold.
The CAR Crisis: Thinking Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping
By Thierry Vircoulon and Thibaud Lesueur, 9 June, 2014
http://www.crisisgroup.org/ direct URL to CAR page:
Thierry Vircoulon is Crisis Group's Central Africa Project Director
and Thibaud Lesueur the group's Central Africa Analyst. The
International Crisis Group has just published a report titled "The
Central African Republic Crisis: From Predation to Stabilisation".
The crisis that has been occurring in CAR is certainly the most
dramatic in its history: more than 600,000 Central Africans are
internally displaced or sought refuge in neighbouring countries;
according to the United Nations, 1.7 million live in a constant
situation of food insecurity and 878,000 need immediate medical
assistance; Muslim communities are fleeing Bangui and the western
region, subsistence economy no longer exists and the de facto
partition of the country, caused by the sectarian violence, is
gradually becoming a reality.
Confronting the sick man of Central Africa, the international
community recognizes the seriousness of the problem but seems unable
to take the appropriate measures. This lack of mobilization results
from a deep skepticism fuelled by the series of failed international
missions implemented in CAR. Indeed, since 1998, several
international peace operations have taken place but they have all
failed re-establishing sustainable peace, although they were
implemented in a far more favourable context than today. While France
is starting to think about withdrawing some of its troops in
September, lots of countries are wondering what could be the impact
of a new peacekeeping mission.
If this mission, in the manner of former interventions, treats only
symptoms of the crisis by providing a temporary security answer, it
will likely be a new superficial stabilization mission and will not
change anything to the flawed software of Central African governance.
However, if this intervention attempts to deal with the real causes
of the crisis by improving public governance, reducing predation
opportunities and boosting the economy, it will probably not be
another mission-for-nothing. For this to happen, the sine qua non
condition is a close partnership between the transitional authorities
and the international community.
Dealing with causes instead of symptoms
To understand the security crisis that plagues CAR and to fine-tune
an appropriate international response, looking back at the past
twenty years is essential. Since the end of the 1980's, formal
economy has been drastically reduced, foreign companies have
gradually left the country and unemployment has become the common
fate of most of the population. The economic collapse has dragged
down a corrupt and ineffective state: only the NGOs and churches'
have been providing social services to the population; territorial
security has been delegated to neighbour States, to France and South
Africa while donors have been providing funds to pay civil servants'
salaries. In addition, the investment budget of the Central African
State has only been reduced to what the donors were ready to give.
The ultimate state disintegration and the security crisis that has
resulted from it are direct consequences of this governance system.
This system has combined an economic predation by both the rulers and
the warlords with the silent complacency of the international actors.
The disappearance of the resources of the formal economy has been
compensated by the illicit economic revenues (diamonds, gold and
ivory trafficking, special accounts of the presidency, etc.). This
dynamic of state disintegration through predation has enabled the
armed groups to expand their territorial and economic sphere of
To quell the ceaseless conflicts in CAR, deploying thousands of blue
helmets will not be enough: it will also be essential to create jobs
and rebuild the economy and the state. If international actors and
Central African authorities do not combine peacekeeping with the
fight against illegal trafficking, economic recovery and good
governance, they are condemned to repeat the past failures.
A win-win partnership
A new element has emerged since January 2014; the recognition of the
structural predation as a pillar of the crisis by both the Central
Africans and the international actors. During closed-doors meetings,
Catherine Samba Panza, the president of the transition, has asked the
international community to commit more in the reconstruction of the
political and economic system. Thus, there is a window of opportunity
to change simultaneously the CAR governance system and the type of
international interventions that have been so far implemented in this
Today, CAR needs to improve the financial public management and to
reinforce the key state institutions (security and finances). CAR
also needs to boost job creating activities and to re-establish
control over the artisanal mining sites in order to dry up the
financing of armed groups. This will not happen without a win-win
partnership between the transitional authorities and the
international actors: trust needs to be restored on both sides.
Indeed, the government should reform its governance system or it will
not get financial and political support from the international actors
and the international actors should fulfil their political, financial
and security promises or they will not be seen as reliable partners.
The coming peacekeeping mission of the United Nations must broaden
its mandate and become the institutional vehicle for such a
partnership. These joint efforts are the price to pay for CAR to
recover a durable stability. Time has come to leave past errors from
behind and to implement new ideas and strategies. The intervention in
CAR must be rethought and the model of international interventions,
whose limitations are now obvious, should be renewed. The key
question is to know if the international organisations and the states
trying to solve the CAR crisis will have the political willingness to
think out of the box and reinvent a new model of intervention, more
demanding in the short-term but more successful in the long-term.
The Central African Crisis: From Predation to Stabilisation
Africa Report No. 21917 Jun 2014
http://www.crisisgroup.org/ direct URL to CAR page:
The full report is available in French.
Executive Summary and Recommendations
The crisis that has plagued the Central African Republic (CAR) since
December 2012, particularly predation by both authorities and armed
groups, has led to the collapse of the state. Under the Seleka, bad
governance inherited from former regimes worsened. Its leaders looted
state resources and controlled the country's illicit economic
networks. Ending this cycle of predatory rule and moving peacefully
to a state that functions and can protect its citizens requires CAR's
international partners to prioritise, alongside security, economic
revival and the fight against corruption and illegal trafficking.
Only a close partnership between the government, UN and other
international actors, with foreign advisers working alongside civil
servants in key ministries, can address these challenges.
Governance under the short Seleka rule (March-December 2013) was
deceptive: the regime proclaimed its positive intentions while, like
its predecessors, plundering public funds and abusing power for selfenrichment.
Though Seleka fighters were involved in illicit
activities even before, once in power the movement asserted control
of lucrative trafficking networks (gold, diamond and ivory). Their
systematic looting destroyed what was already a phantom state.
Retaliation by anti-balaka fighters against Muslims - the majority of
traders are Muslim - aggravated the economic collapse.
The economy fell apart even before the state; yet the current
international intervention spearheaded by the G5 (African Union, UN,
European Union, the U.S. and France) focuses for the most part on
security. Troops are being mobilised, but if a principal cause of the
conflict - entrenched predation - is left unaddressed, the
international community will repeat the failures of its past
interventions. Protecting citizens is important; but so too is
rekindling economic activity and improving financial public
management to help build an effective public governance system
delivering services for all CAR citizens, both Muslim and Christian.
A new UN mission (MINUSCA) will be deployed in September 2014. In
addition to its current mandate - protecting civilians, assisting a
political transition, supporting humanitarian work and monitoring
human rights - it must change the incentive structure for better
governance. It should prioritise rebuilding the economy and public
institutions and fighting trafficking. The region and relevant
multilateral organisations should be involved too. Targeted sanctions
against spoilers in and outside CAR should be embedded in a more
comprehensive strategy to revive the economy.
Some politicians with ties to armed groups or who are eying what are
for the moment hypothetical presidential elections could resist a
tight partnership between the state and international community. But
the transitional government's demand for strong international support
offers an opportunity to forge such a partnership and adopt the
policies essential to both stabilise the country and promote a change
To define a stabilisation and reconstruction strategy that benefits
all sectors of the CAR population
To the transitional government, donors and the G5:
1. Agree on a partnership for the transition that includes:
a) an agreement on co-management of key revenue generating state
institutions; strict selection of candidates for top public
administration jobs and a rigorous training program for new civil
b) job creation, improved financial public management and the fight
against illicit economic networks; and
c) thematic donors groups under the authority of the SecretaryGeneral'
s special representative (SRSG) to implement this policy.
To create jobs
To the transitional government, the private sector and donors:
2. Launch labour intensive projects to boost the agricultural sector
and rehabilitate infrastructure.
3. Identify and support job-creating activities within the private
To fight against state corruption
To the transitional government and donors:
4. Deploy a team of experts to work as counterparts to civil
servants, with the power to veto expenditures in the ministries of
finance and mines and the main public companies.
5. Reform the tax administration by creating a single tax agency to
centralise tax collection.
6. Reinforce financial checks and balances and provide capacity
building to civil society organisations to enable them to monitor
financial public management.
To fight against the illicit economic networks
To the transitional government:
7. Investigate alleged embezzlement by the two previous governments
and request assistance from Interpol, donors and the UN.
To the UN, regional countries, the CAR government and specialised
8. Reach a consensus on the fight against international trafficking
originating from the CAR, and create a cell within MINUSCA to fight
against diamonds, gold, ivory trafficking and militarised poaching.
9. Resume control of main gold and diamonds production sites by
deploying there international forces and civil servants, and
implement the Kimberley Process certification mechanism for diamonds
coming from these areas.
To the transitional government, UN and donors:
10. Revive and improve impartiality of the judiciary in Bangui and in
cities secured by international forces, by providing technical
assistance for the police and the courts.
To create a new administrative elite
To the transitional government and donors:
11. Develop and implement rigorous training programs for new civil
servants in the public infrastructures, finances and security
Nairobi/Brussels, 17 June 2014
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