Sunday, February 2, 2014

CAR: " To this orphan of heartbreak, disillusioned and scarred A refugee "

New Vision Uganda reports

Hiding in the bush after C.Africa rebel attack
               There is an overall sense of desperation among many people who have been affected by the crisis. 

BANGUI - When a heavily-armed convoy of former Seleka rebels zeroed in on his Central African town, Albert took his children and his livestock and fled into the bush.

This is the first report on situation outside of Bangui that I have seen published and it sounds as though the Seleka killers ( lets stop with the pretence they are rebels ) are retreating in the bloodiest way possible.

Like the majority of the residents of Sibut, a strategic town linking the capital Bangui, 180 kilometres (110 miles) away, with the north of the country, Albert was not going to stick around for the terror the rebels have wrought across the strife-torn nation.

"As I speak to you, I am hiding in the bush, about 10km from Sibut. Ninety-nine percent of the inhabitants are in the bush, there is no one left in town," he told AFP by telephone.

I suspect that there is not only nobody left in town but there is probably very little of the town left. Before Christmas I blogged about an Amnesty International report that include some satellite shots of the war crimes inflicted on the villages, there is no reason to expect that the Seleka criminals will behave any differently this time.
"We fled with our livestock, our goats, but they followed us to steal our chickens," Albert explained. "We have settled in under a big tree... we sleep on the ground with our children like animals."

Amongst all the killing that has occurred in the CAR it is hard to get a balanced perspective on losing some chickens and having to sleep under a tree. The truth is that Albert has had to flee with his family the alternative being death at the hands of Seleka, his house and possessions he couldn't carry have in all probability been stolen or destroyed and those chickens while seeming insignificant might well yet come to be the difference between life or death for Albert and his family. The CAR is now facing famine. 

The ominous convoy rode into Sibut on Wednesday night, the fighters speaking only Arab, and began committing atrocities against civilians, a paramilitary police source said.

Killers " speaking only Arab(ic)" is starting to become a very unwelcome pattern in the Central African region. The ADF Ugandan rebels ( also Muslim ) operating in the neighbouring DR Congo seem to have some Arabic speakers as well. 

Again from the UN Experts report:

The Group determined that during 2013, foreign, Arabic-speaking men have conducted military training courses and operations with ADF; however, the Group was not able to firmly establish the nationalities of these foreigners or their organizational affiliation(s).

I have seen other reports describing them as bearded Arabs. It isn't all that hard to connect the jihadi dots, or rather disconnect them in a final and terminal way.
At their head was Mamadou Rakis, who has been deputy police chief under former rebel-turned-president Michel Djotodia who was brought to power in a coup by his mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group in March last year.

One hopes that the ICC has issued indictments against Mamadou Rakis.

Djotodia then disbanded the Seleka group, but the fighters went rogue, spreading terror and violence across the nation and prompting Christian communities to form militia to defend themselves.

The resulting cycle of often horrific tit-for-tat violence has brought the country to its knees.

Djotodia's resignation on January 10, and the installment of a new interim government, have failed to stem the violence which has spread from the capital into the interior.

I suspect the violence will end when the Muslim community has either been wiped out or gone into exile. Djotodia it would seem had very little idea what he was unleashing. 

" The boot is now clearly on the Christian foot it may well be that the surviving Muslim community will be exiled if they are not killed. This was always going to be the outcome and to some degree it is understandable. The Muslim community allowed the Seleka rebels to massacre the Christians now the situation has been reversed the most that the peacekeepers can hope to do is provide safe zones while a solution is arrived at." 

Seleka "have flocked to all corners of the countryside, from Bangassou, Bambari, Grimari, Bria to Ndele," said Albert, naming a string of Central African towns.

"They have committed destruction, robberies in broad daylight, they break down doors, they loot, they clean out suburbs. Bad luck for you if they find you!" he added.

"They take money, cellphones. They rule the roost."

That will change as we have seen in Bangui, Seleka may have wanted to create a Muslim state in the CAR but with 85% of the population being Christian that was never going to happen. Sectarian violence that will destroy their co-religionists will be the lasting Seleka achievement.

The Red Cross based in Bangui confirmed Friday that Seleka had stormed Sibut and that residents "are holed up in the bush."

None of the 1,600 French troops in the country were present in the town of some 20,000 people when the former rebels arrived.

A Gabonese contingent from the African Union force MISCA was surrounded and then fled, according to several sources.

When the European Union forces arrive their airpower will be the game changer. It seems to be taking an awfully long time for them to arrive though.

The fighters "have moved into two bases in the town, one is at the mayor's office. They are armed to the teeth," said Albert, who said about 20 people had been killed.

"The only vehicles circulating belong to Seleka or the Red Cross. We are cut off from everything."

The attack seemed to take both the French and African troops by surprise, with spokesmen from both sides initially saying they were unaware of what was happening in the town.

However hope appeared Friday night as the French force launched an operation in the town, according to an army spokesman.

This was confirmed by a defence official in Paris who said French aircraft had been flying over the town since the afternoon.

The reconnaissance aircraft will probably move the Seleka forces on. I doubt they will want to tangle with the French troops.

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