Genocide looms in the Central African Republic

Emoni Jones, Obama Eagle Staff Reporter

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The UN Chief’s special adviser on genocide prevention has warned of a “high rick of crimes against humanity and of genocide” in the Central African Republic. Adama Dieng and other UN officials briefed the Security Council on Wednesday, January 14, 2014, on the continuing and unprecedented violence between Christians and Muslims in the country. More than half the country’s 4.6 million people need assistance, according to the UN, and nearly one million have fled their homes after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March coup d’etat that ousted former President Franois Bozize.  Christian self-defense group’s known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete) have taken up arms against them, and the UN estimates that retaliatory violence has claimed thousands of lives.  The officials spoke of children being beheaded, entire villages burned and a complete breakdown of law and order, and they urged the deployment of more peacekeepers as soon as possible.

“The level of hatred between these communities shocked me,” Dieng said, listing widespread reports of summary executions, mutilation and sexual violence among the “widespread and massive” human rights violations.  On Thursday, January 16, 2014, John Ging, director of operations for the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a news conference in Geneva: “It has all the elements that we have seen elsewhere, in places like Rwanda and Bosnia. The elements are there; the seeds are there, for genocide.  There’s no question about that.” The former French colony descended into chaos after Seleka seized power in March, unleashing a wave of killings and looting that sparked revenge attacks by the Anti-Balaka.  More than a million people have been displaced by the violence since Seleka installed their leader, Michel Djotodia, as interim president.  Over 1,000 people were killed last month alone into the Central African Republic capital, Bangui, prompting neighboring countries to evacuate more than 30,000 of their citizens.

The U.S. military will assist France in its efforts to bring order to the anarchic Central African Republic by airlifting African troops to the capital.  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to an emergency request from France to help transport African Union soldiers into Bangui.  France has deployed 1,600 troops to its former colony in recent days to try to restore order in the midst of rising lawlessness and intensified street battles among rival militias.

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