The Central African Republic (CAR), a small landlocked country in the center of the continent, has long been beset by conflict with dire humanitarian consequences for civilians. The people of CAR are currently trapped in the grips of an unprecedented increase in violence sparked by the December 2020 presidential elections. The humanitarian consequences for CAR’s civilian population remain dire. Communities are consistently cut off from essential goods and services, as well as livelihoods. As a result of the recent spike in conflict, more than 200,000 Central Africans have fled their homes since mid-December. The total of displaced Central Africans now stands at 1.4 million people, more than a quarter of the country’s 4.6 million people.
Central Africans face increased threats to their safety including forced displacement, mass executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, forced disappearances, and violent persecution based on ethnic and religious grounds. A group of UN experts has reported numerous instances of atrocities, grave human rights abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict, including armed rebel groups, the Central African Forces (FACA), and their Wagner group allies—a Russian paramilitary force. Mankeur Ndiaye, the head of the UN Peacekeeping mission in CAR (MINUSCA) recently stated that “[n]ever have violations of human rights and international humanitarian law equaled those recently committed.” In July, Refugees International convened a group of civil society leaders from CAR and international researchers to discuss the impact of atrocities on population displacement.
This brief summarizes the main findings of that discussion, including recommendations on how to resolve conflict and prevent further atrocities and displacement.