Genocide Threat Grows In Central Africa

Muslims are being “cleansed” from the western part of the Central African Republic, and thousands of civilians risk being killed “right before our eyes,” the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, told the U.N. Security Council on March 6. U.N. Emergency Coordinator Valerie Amos on March 10 described an “extremely grave” situation after months of interreligious violence that has wrecked state institutions, left millions on the brink of starvation and now threatens to draw in the wider region. About half the population, 2.2 million people, are now in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict, which erupted when Muslim Seleka rebels launched attacks in December 2012. The fighting has taken on increasingly sectarian tones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (“anti-machete”) have taken up arms against Seleka rebels and now against anyone thought to be a Seleka sympathizer. A U.N. official in Geneva warned that the spread of propaganda and the collapse of law and order could be a precursor to serious human rights violations, including genocide.

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