Saturday, 11 January 2014

Foreigners fleeing Central African Republic as violence continues

French fox in African hen

For the past months, over 1 million people have been internally displaced across the Central African Republic. In towns and villages outside the capital Bangui, Central Africans and foreigners have been searching for safety as the Seleka rebels try to keep what little control remains in the territories they capture. French troops with help from the remaining Central African Army has been trying to fight back Seleka rebels. While the Seleka fight with French-Central African military, they are also battling Anti-Balaka rebels who have vowed to protect their fellow countrymen from attack by Seleka forces. The battles between the Sekela and Balaka rebels and their retaliation against civilians of the opposing side has been dubbed "sectarian violence" by BBC and other Western media. In the media's eye the focus is no longer on the conflict's roots: marginalization and government abuses but on religious clashes as in Iraq and Syria. The Seleka are described as Muslim while the Anti-Balaka are made up of Christians. The Anti Balaka add another dimension to the previous anti government rebel uprising, the Christian vs Muslim. The Seleka rebels originally the stronger rebel group that overthrew Francios Bozize and forced the now former interim President Michel Djotodia into self imposed exile has been painted as unpredictable albeit dangerous group causing instability for the entire country. The Anti-Balaka rebels are regarded as late comers who are rightfully defending their co religious from targeted attacks and possible genocide by the Muslim Seleka rebels who were initially attacking the government instead of fellow countrymen at the start of the conflict.

French soldiers try to win the hearts and minds of Central Africans starting with the kids. Central Africans have been protesting against French intervention in the country although Central Africans who have survived rebel attacks welcome French troops. Photo from London Evening Post
As a result of the heavy fighting, meditation by AU troops, the French troops intervention that has failed to stop the violence and military combat against both rebel groups in the name of stability, Chadian and other foreigners living in the Central African Republic are fleeing their homes and businesses. Many Chadians, Malians and other migrants are desperately seeking to return to neighboring countries before the violence escalate to dangerous portions. Thousands of Chadians have been camped out at a makeshift camp at the Bangui Airport demanding that the Chadian government intervene to evacuate them over the border to Chad's capital city N'Djamena. Chadian families with children have found temporary safety within Bangui airport's walls fearing they will be attacked by Anti-Balaka rebels if they remain in the country. Most Chadians in Central African Republic consider themselves Central Africans and many were born in the CAR. The International Migration Organization began the process of airlifting Chadians and Central African Muslims from Congo, Cameroon and neighboring nations from the country to Chad. Many evacuatees would like to return to the CAR once the violence calms or ends. Malians too have been waiting at the airport to be airlifted back to Mali.

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