State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009 - Central African Republic
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Publication Date||16 July 2009|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009 - Central African Republic, 16 July 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a66d9bcc.html [accessed 22 September 2014]|
Political change came to the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2008 as a new Prime Minister, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, was named on 22 January. On 9 May a 'peace accord' was agreed in Gabon between the government and the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD). A further peace deal was signed with the other rebel group, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), in June. However, fighting continued in bursts and IRIN reported from Sam Ouandja, a town on the border with Sudan, that the majority of the population (20,000 people) had fled as rebel factions (reportedly of the UFDR group) attacked. This came just ahead of further peace talks that began on 8 December.
The humanitarian consequences of the conflict within CAR and the wider region have been great. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) around 56,000 Central Africans have fled to southern Chad since 2003 and are living in five different camps. Since late 2008, some 100 Central Africans had been arriving monthly.
IRIN reports reveal the particular impact on some minority groups in Chad, such as the cattle-raising communities of the Mbororo group in north-western CAR. Many men fled to Cameroon to avoid being kidnapped by 'bandits' who demanded huge ransoms. Many had to sell their cattle to pay ransoms, leaving them in poverty. Tensions between pastoral populations persisted along the border with southern Sudan over water and grazing rights. In January 2008 UNICEF reported on the worrying living conditions and challenges facing the Aka people.
According to the country's Humanitarian Development Partnership Team, which comprises UN agencies and NGOs, CAR has 'one of the world's weakest educational systems'. Only 1.45 per cent of GDP is spent on education, half the African average, and insecurity in the north has meant the formal education system there has vanished. 'Bush schools' have been set up, with parents providing basic tuition to children whose families were forced to flee their villages to live in temporary settlements. Where primary education exists, the pupil to teacher ration is 92:1 and according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) figures for 2007/8 the adult literacy rate is 48.6 per cent. Girls are less likely to be schooled than boys – UNICEF figures show that net primary school enrolment for boys is 64 per cent, but only 45 percent for girls.
In June 2008, UNICEF reported good news from the northern regions of the country as schools began to reopen. In 2007 UNICEF had worked with Italian NGO COOPI to help re-open 104 schools in northern CAR, allowing 32,000 children to return to school. Sixty per cent of these schools were in the bush, serving families too afraid to return home. In addition, UNICEF has supported the training of 300 parent-teachers in the region as most teachers fled during the fighting in 2003 and 2004. Parents are now teaching their children the national curriculum, which will help to reintegrate the children back into school when they return.