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Central African Republic

In 2013 a Muslim rebel group known as Seleka came together to go against President Francois Boziz's regime in Central African Republic. They attacked civilians as they took overthrew the government. The Anti-Balaka, a mostly Christian militia, fought back against the Seleka and targeted Muslim civilians. There has been a cycle of revenge attacks that have led to a humanitarian crisis in the country. Schools, medical facilities, and villages have been destroyed leaving people with little access to food, water, and shelter.

USHMM

During the 2013 attacks in Central African Republic homes and villages were pillaged, there were summary executions, reports of rape, and torture. One civilian was shot by a Seleka fighter after they were told to give them money and replied that they didn't have any. Another person reported everything being taken in their house from all the furniture to clothes; basically anything that had value. Many people were killed when trying to flee or trying to avoid the Seleka members from coming into their homes and taking their property.

HRW

By September 2013 the Selaka leader, Michel Djotodia, announced that the Seleka group was being terminated but the members still continued to attack. The anti-balaka forces continued to retaliate as well. Villages were burned on both sides. There were reports of Muslims having their cattle stolen or killed by the anti-balaka forces. One woman had to watch the anti-balaka members slit the throats of males, including her 3-year-old son. Another man also witnessed the throats of his family members cut by the attackers. By the end of December 2013 450,000 people were forced to flee their homes, with many seeking refuge in nearby countries.

HRW

In 2014 the violence in Central African Republic spread. The Christian militia as well as residents continued to destroy Muslim homes and mosques. Several Muslim towns became ghost towns since the residents were forced to flee the ongoing attacks. The Seleka retaliated and burned 961 homes just in one day in January. One anti-balaka leader said he told his men to stop killing Muslims, but ordered them to all leave the country. The violence against the Muslims was brutal and there were some cases of public lynching and mutilation.

HRW

By August 2014 over 200,000 of the Central African refugees went to Cameroon to escape persecution. About 75 percent of the refugees were women and children since many of the men were killed or fled to other areas. Many of them walked for weeks or months in the bush arriving across the border in dire conditions; famished, dehydrated, and exhausted. In at least 300 camps for refugees there was a lack of funding needed for assistance, leaving many suffering from malnutrition and without enough water or proper sanitation services.

Al Jazeera

From the end of 2014 into 2015 the violence in Central African Republic died down, but the Muslims continued to face persecution. A report by Amnesty International said that Muslims in the western half of Central African Republic were being forced to abandon their religion. People primarily living in rural areas that weren't guarded by UN troops were being targeted. They were not allowed to do anything that would express themselves as Muslims. In order to survive they had to comply with the anti-balaka forces, or convert to Christianity.

Al Jazeera

By 2016 the Central African Republic was facing a hunger crisis due to the violence over the last few years. The number had doubled from 2015 and about 2.5 million people were battling hunger. The fighting and displacement caused food prices to skyrocket; there was not as much crop production as there was prior to the crisis. About half of the cattle was gone and the sheep and goats were down 60 percent due to the killing and looting. Many families had to sell their possessions, take their children out of school, and some even started begging.

Al Jazeera

The conflict in Central African Republic has put hundreds of thousands of children out of school. As of 2016 there were still many schools closed; about 500 were not functioning and a third of school age children were not in school. There has been a shortage of teachers since many fled the country. Traveling to school is also an issue for children. Many of the teachers that are in school are being trained to assist with psychosocial support since a lot of the children suffer from post conflict-trauma. Some of the children are withdrawn and don't want to talk about it while but others have been aggressive and taking out weapons.

Reuters

Towards the end of 2016 the violence in Central African Republic started up again. It caused more than 20,000 people to flee to a UN base and in the town of Kaga Bandero humanitarian aid was stopped due to security concerns. Halting the humanitarian relief has led to food insecurity for 120,000 people. It has also affected the 35,000 living in camps for internally displaced people.

Al Jazeera

In May 2017 the anti-balaka militia attacked Muslims in Tokoyo, a mostly Muslim district in Bangassou. After the attack thousands fled to a mosque for refuge, but then it was attacked too. A Catholic bishop had trucks sent to Tokoyo to save as many people as possible and brought them back to the church. By June at least 1,500 people who were mostly Muslim civilians were stuck in the Catholic church, unable to leave because it wasn't yet safe. It took a week for the church just to get food because the anti-balaka stopped traders from bringing food to them.

Al Jazeera

Many of the Muslims that have returned to Central African Republic are coming back to nothing. M Babakir Ali knew everything would be taken, but decided to return anyway. A local chief sold all his property to someone else. Several others that have returned are left with nowhere to go. Humanitarian organizations note that addressing the issue of unlawful and illegal occupation of homes and property is important for peace building efforts, otherwise it can lead to more conflict.

Al Jazeera

In August 2017 the UN aid chief said that renewed clashes in the Central African Republic were early warning signs of genocide. By that time over half a million people had been displaced as a result of the fighting the past few years. The violence in Bangassou a few months prior along with the death of 9 peacekeepers that year showed that the country was at risk for relapsing into another crisis. Another indicator was that half the country's population was in need of food aid.

Al Jazeera

Over the last few years of conflict in the Central African Republic, rape and sexual slavery has been used as a war tactic on both sides of the Seleka and anti-balaka groups. There have also been reports of kidnapping and physical assault on girls and women aged 10-75, mostly in the capital Bangui. The repeated rape and sexual slavery has long-term effects such as illness, injury, unwanted pregnancy, stigma, and abandonment. Survivors may lack access to education and even medical or psychological care after being raped. As of October 2017 no member from either groups have been arrested or tried for rape and sexual slavery.

HRW