The Central African Republic (CAR) is a large and sparsely populated state that had a limited government presence even before the current crisis. The absence of effective state security institutions and the continued targeting of civilians by Séléka and Anti-Balaka militias put the people of CAR at high risk for further mass atrocities.
To address the insecurity in CAR, the UN authorized a peacekeeping operation of 12,000 personnel (military, police, and civilians), known by its acronym MINUSCA, which it began to deploy in September 2014. Previously, an African Union international stabilization force (MISCA) was tasked with protecting civilians and disarming armed groups. The French government has deployed an additional 20,000 troops and the European Union has dispatched another 1,000 to bolster the security situation.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on all actors to “stop attacking civilians and committing crimes” or run the risk of ICC prosecution. Subsequently, the chief prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation into these crimes in February 2014 and in September it concluded there is justification for proceeding with an investigation.
In addition to authorizing MISCA and MINUSCA, the UN Security Council has taken the following steps to respond to the atrocities being committed in CAR:
- Established an arms embargo, a panel of experts, and a sanctions committee
- Inaugurated a commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and abuses of human rights, as well as to monitor “hate propaganda” in an effort to limit its impact and deter would-be perpetrators, according to the inquiry chairperson
- Called for increased human rights monitoring capacity
- Is considering travel bans and asset freezes for leaders and perpetrators of the violence
- Issued frequent statements from the secretary-general, the special adviser on the prevention of genocide, and other high-level UN officials on the severity of the situation
The US has attempted to mitigate Christian-Muslim violence by:
- Resuming operations at the US embassy in Bangui to lead US efforts and assist in coordinating international responses to the crisis
- Sending US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and other US officials on multiple visits to CAR to meet with religious leaders as well as with officials from the transitional government, MISCA, and France
- Working with UN partners to impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities contributing to the violence
- Encouraging media to disseminate messages from religious leaders urging peace and reconciliation
- Recording, translating, and playing on local radio a statement by President Obama urging an end to the violence
- Developing Voice of America programs featuring religious leaders from the US and the Central Africa Republic who support ending the atrocities
- Supporting the creation of a network of local community and interfaith religious leaders for promoting peace and reconciliation efforts
- Providing logistical and technical support for countries committing troops to MISCA
- Providing over $145 million in humanitarian assistance
- UN compounds, the airport in Bangui, and religious sites and schools have been set up as gathering spaces for internally displaced persons
- Large scale food assistance programs and other humanitarian assistance programs continue to operate but struggle to keep up with demands
- The US and other donor countries continue to support bilateral and UN efforts to address the significant needs inside CAR and in neighboring countries