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INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP - NEW BRIEFING, 14-XII-14
Away from the international spotlight, the Central African Republic’s rural areas are turning into fields of violence as war over territory and livestock hits a highly vulnerable population, with effects increasingly felt in neighbouring Cameroon and Chad.
In its latest briefing, The Central African Republic’s Hidden Conflict, the International Crisis Group examines a dangerous conflict-within-a-conflict requiring urgent action by the transitional government and its international partners. Targeted by anti-balaka militias and ex-Seleka fighters, many pastoralist communities are left in extreme poverty and forced to flee. Tens of thousands cross the border to Cameroon and Chad where, in turn, land pressure intensifies. Many of the victims seek retribution or join armed groups to survive, becoming actors in a conflict that divides communities and damages a pillar of the traditional economy.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
“The country’s crisis has exacerbated old conflicts and produced new ones. Rural Central African Republic is now the stage for a violent competition over livestock, the wealth of the poor”, says Thibaud Lesueur, Central Africa Analyst. “It is a highly divisive and often deadly confrontation, weakening the economy, allowing the proliferation of armed groups and undermining efforts to put the country back on the path of stabilisation”.
“For too long, the focus of the transitional government and the international community has been on Bangui”, says Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa Project Director. “If the country is to overcome its violent path, they need to take into account what happens outside the capital and make support for the rural population and pastoralist communities an integral part of their strategies”.