Central African crisis


Reports from Central African Republic (CAR), one of the poorest and most unstable states in the world , suggest it is now spiralling uncontrollably, largely unnoticed, into the sort of nightmare ethnic cleansing that devastated Rwanda. Thousands are said to have died and the UN reports 650,000 people have been internally displaced escaping the violence, more than 232,000 in capital Bangui alone. Nearly 300,000 people have fled to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon. Many face food and water shortages and have no shelter.

“Since early December we have effectively witnessed a ‘cleansing’ of the majority of the Muslim population in western CAR,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres told the UN Security Council on Thursday. Overshadowed by the emergency debates on the Ukraine, it also met and heard a broad consensus on an appeal from the CAR’s foreign minister, Toussaint Kongo-Doudou, for the urgent deployment of a 12,000-strong UN force of soldiers and police. France is preparing a motion on a force that will incorporate some 6,000 African Union forces already in country. The EU is deploying 1,000 soldiers to join them and 2,000 French troops who have to date been unable to halt the killings .

They are struggling to control the Bangui region and guard some 70,000 civilians who have sought shelter at an emergency UN base at the airport. “International forces are present in some of these sites, but if more security is not made available immediately, many of these civilians risk being killed right before our eyes,” Guterres warned.

The country plunged into violence a year ago when Muslim rebels from the north invaded the capital and overthrew the president. They pillaged neighbourhoods, raping and killing with impunity for months, giving rise to a Christian militia that has been involved in violent reprisals against Muslims and attempted a coup in early December. State institutions have largely collapsed. Speed and urgency, for which the UN is not renowned, are crucial.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.