State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 - Central African Republic
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Publication Date||28 June 2012|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012 - Central African Republic, 28 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fedb4033c.html [accessed 13 March 2014]|
Since independence in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been afflicted by chronic internal instability, exacerbated by the spillover of conflicts from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Chad, Sudan and nearby Uganda.
In 2011, the government made some progress towards peace. In June, it signed a ceasefire agreement with the last remaining rebel group, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), which operates in the north and is reported to be made up primarily of members of the Runga ethnic group. Several thousand combatants from another armed group, the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD), were demobilized.
However, conflict and human rights abuses against civilians are still rife, fuelled in part by competition for access to the country's mineral resources. These include diamonds, which are extracted primarily by informal artisanal mining, and gold.
Incumbent President François Bozizé, who took power in a 2003 coup, won a second five-year term in January, in the first round of elections, which while largely peaceful were denounced as fraudulent by opposition candidates. President Bozizé is a member of the Gbaya ethnic group and has been accused, as have previous leaders, of using the country's mineral wealth to empower his own group's elite.
The year saw several armed confrontations between the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) militia, dominated by the Gula ethnic group, and the Convention of Patriots for Justice (CPJP), which is predominately Runga, as mentioned above.
In September, near Bria, the country's diamond hub located in the east of the country, the UFDR and CPJP fought for control over a diamond mine, with 50 combatants and civilians reportedly killed. In response, over 8,000 people reportedly fled their homes. A ceasefire between the two groups was signed in October, but the situation remains volatile. At the height of the tensions, reports indicated that fighters went house to house targeting persons belonging to other ethnic groups.
All in all, conflict forced more than 22,000 people from their homes in 2011, bringing the total of internally displaced in the country to nearly 170,000. Nearly 165,000 CAR nationals are currently refugees in neighbouring countries.
Another major source of the upheaval was the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), pushed out of Uganda in 2008. It continued to terrorize civilians across ethnic groups in the south-east, causing mass internal displacement into towns under control of CAR and/or Ugandan security forces. One of the drivers of the LRA's continuing expansion into the interior of the CAR is reported to be access to its mines. Following calls for greater involvement from international and regional human rights and civil society groups, in October the US government announced that it would send 100 military advisers to help coordinate efforts against the LRA. The UN peacekeeping Mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) withdrew in late 2010, but a sub-regional peacekeeping force remains in place.
In the CAR's south, logging continues to affect the forest-dwelling Ba'Aka people, disrupting the hunting and gathering activities that traditionally are the mainstay of their livelihoods. The CAR is working towards ratification of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement agreed with the EU (European Union) in late 2010, under the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to combat illegal logging and associated trade. The 'rights of workers, local and indigenous communities' are included among 10 principles for establishing the legality of timber to be traded under the terms of the agreement. However, the impact of the proposed initiative on traditional forest-dwelling communities remains to be seen.