Sunday, January 19, 2014

CAR: " Wearing bracelets of smoke, naked of understanding "

The BBC reports

Bodies burnt in street in Central African Republic

                                         Aid workers in Bangui rushed to remove the burnt bodies of the Muslim men

A Christian mob in the Central African Republic capital Bangui has killed and burned two Muslims in the street, in the latest sectarian clash.
The gangs told the BBC they would carry on killing Muslims in their area.
It was predictable that a backlash against Muslims would occur I blogged a couple of weeks ago that after the brutality inflicted on the Christian community the only way to stop it was getting peacekeepers on the ground in far greater numbers
" The peacekeepers will soon have the job of protecting the Muslim population from annihilation, the Seleka rebels will decamp to the north with the inevitable collapse of the Djotodia regime. This from the BBC: 

"The Muslims knocked on our door and asked us, 'do you have any guns?," she told me. "We said no, but they took my son out and they shot him. They shot all of our sons, one by one. "
There is a certain irony to this report from late December:  
" Several thousand Muslims backing former Seleka rebels protested in the Central African Republic's capital on Sunday against French soldiers conducting a disarmament operation, AFP journalists in the city witnessed.
The demonstration swelled after some Muslim residents said three ex-Seleka fighters were killed in clashes with French troops. French officials have not confirmed that information."
French and African Union soldiers are struggling to contain sectarian violence that erupted after largely Muslim rebels took over the country.
The Muslim community allowed their coreligionists from the rebel Seleka to brutalise the Christian community without so much as a murmur of protest, when the French troops attempted to put a stop to the Seleka deprivations the Muslim community protested against the French.  If the Muslims had placed a higher  any value on the lives and wellbeing of their Christian neighbours rather than supporting the largely foreign ( Chad & South Sudan ) Seleka rebels I doubt that they would be in this situation now. What goes around comes around.
MPs are due to select a new interim president on Monday, a week after rebel leader Michel Djotodia quit the post.
Mr Djotodia became CAR's first Muslim ruler after his rebel group Seleka overthrew the government in March last year.
The coup helped plunge CAR into sectarian conflict between the majority Christians and the minority Muslims.
It wasn't a coup it was a rebellion, they are very different beasts. The sectarian violence was a direct result of the behaviour of the Seleka rebels, it is very hard not to feel a certain degree of, if not sympathy at least understanding of the Christian community position with regard to the Muslims that remain.   
He quit on 11 January having failed to stop the violence.
Although the clashes seemed to die down immediately after he quit, reports emerged later in the week of more violence.
Radio France International quoted a French General saying the situation was improving again I blogged about it at the time.

"The situation is improving - slowly, but it is improving," the commander of the French troops in the CAR, General Francisco Soriano, said on Thursday.

It is improving insomuch as we have taken a step forward, the two steps backwards have yet to come. Unless the international community can get its shit together very fast then those backwards steps are days if not hours away."

On Friday, aid agencies said at least 22 people were killed in an attack on a convoy evacuating Muslims to neighbouring Cameroon.
In Sunday's attack, a Christian mob killed two Muslims and set their bodies alight at a roundabout in the capital.
They told the BBC's Thomas Fessy that they were avenging the murder of a Christian overnight. It is unclear whether the men had any part or were targeted simply for being Muslim.
Almost certainly it would be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt that there are many Seleka left in Bangui. The Muslims that remain are probably locals with no place to run. The best option I can see in the short term is setting up secure areas or sanctuaries for the remainder of the Muslim community.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had taken 25 very seriously injured people to hospital in Bangui.
In a statement issued from its headquarters in Geneva, it added that fresh inter-communal violence had flared up in north and north-western areas of the country. Red Cross workers had buried 50 bodies discovered over the past 48 hours in the north-west, it said.
The ICRC expressed concern that much of the population, fearing reprisals, was hiding in the bush with no-one to protect them.
There is very little in the way of reporting from the hinterland. I would expect that human toll has been very high.

The UN Security Council approved a French troop deployment to CAR late last year as part of a plan to restore order and hold an election by early 2015.
The temporary parliament finalised a list of eight candidates for interim president on Sunday.
Officials said the candidates met stringent criteria, including stipulations they had not been members of a militant group, and that they had never worked for Mr Djotodia or his Seleka rebel group.
The candidates include Bangui mayor Catherine Samba Panza, and two sons of former presidents, Sylvain Patasse and Desire Kolingba.
It would seem possible that some EU nations might decide to contribute troops alongside the AU / MISCA (Support Mission to the Central African Republic ), DW ( Germany ) reports

" EU foreign ministers were on Monday expected to discuss sending troops to the country to lend support to French and African soldiers who are seeking to restore order.French President Francois Hollande in December asked for a show of solidarity from fellow EU member states, but so far only Estonia has offered to send any troops to the country. Britain, along with Germany, has offered logistical support but has repeatedly made it clear that it will not send soldiers.Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Spain are believed to be the next most likely to contribute troops."

Of course there remains the problem of food. 

" With the coming harvest threatened since farmers have fled their lands or lack seeds due to looting and because people have had to eat them instead of saving them for planting, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP have launched a 100-day response plan to boost nutrition and restore agricultural production through seed distribution and storage facilities."

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