While the world fixated on Ukraine and Syria, a near-genocide ripped through central Africa, to little international fanfare.
It’s been two years since unimaginable violence broke out in the Central African Republic, and yet so few have noticed the near-genocide ravaging the little-known country. The downward spiral began in early 2013, when a majority-Muslim group of rebels seized control of the country and began a campaign of killing and looting. This led to the formation of a Christian militant group to counter the rebels, and all-out sectarian violence exploded.
Watchdog groups warn of ongoing ethnic cleansing and hint that what happened in nearby Rwanda exactly 20 years ago could again come to pass. A team from Human Rights Watch found that the French soldiers “seemed stunned by the violence” upon arriving in the war-torn country. The streets of the capital of Bangui were littered with cut up bodies and Muslims hanging from lynching ropes—an estimated 100 people were being killed daily. “At the scenes of the most brutal lynchings in Bangui, we often found small children among the spectators, watching human beings being cut apart.”
This hasty outside intervention slowed the crush of violence, but there’s still fear that the precarious country could be sent over the tipping point at any moment—and the world would barely notice.
“CAR is not well known by the international community—they don’t know if it is a region of Africa or if it is a country,” says Souleymane Diabaté, the head of UNICEF in Central African Republic.
But there’s the possibility that CAR might usher in peace—even while few are paying attention.
“If I had to summarize in one word what inspires me on December 30, 2014, that word would be ‘hope,’” Babacar Gaye, head of the UN mission in CAR, said at a Tuesday press conference in the capital.
[The Daily Beast]