CAR finds itself at a crossroads

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Photo: UNHCR/S. Phelps

28 January 2014 - The Central African Republic was experiencing some hope as the new president for the transitional government was sworn in on the 23 January. The country’s crisis has been called one of “epic proportions”, and transitional president Catherine Samba-Panza’s nickname ‘Mother Courage’ might well come in handy. 

The country’s first female president has herself named her "sensibility as a woman" as a vital asset that could bring reconciliation. Samba-Panza will however only be president for a year, as elections must be held in February 2015.

Now, the country finds itself at a critical juncture, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned on Monday.

Amongst the hope, renewed fighting and the flight of ex-Séléka and Muslim civilians towards the north of the country means that the situation is once again deteriorating. “I welcome the appointment of Catherine Samba-Panza as the Head of State of the Transition and her repeated calls for an end to violence.
However the security and human rights situation has further deteriorated over the past few days. Muslim civilians are now extremely vulnerable. Many are being pushed out of the country, alongside ex-Séléka, and are now fleeing, mostly towards the Chadian border,” Pillay said.

The vulnerable population is being hit hard, as humanitarian workers struggle to deliver the much needed help. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is running out of food to distribute to the growing numbers of displaced as insecurity is blocking supply routes, and as UNICEF reports, the conflict has already had a negative impact on the nutritional status of children and violence against children has reached unprecedented levels.

 “We simply cannot let the social fabric of this country be torn apart. I call as a matter of utmost urgency upon the international community to strengthen peacekeeping efforts. There is a need to urgently restore security not only in Bangui but also in other parts of the country. Many lives are at stake,” Pillay said.

UNRIC's library backgrounder on CAR: