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article imageCentral African Republic coup sparks refugee crisis

By Ryan Donnelly     Apr 6, 2013 in Politics
The situation in the Central African Republic becomes more dire as thousands flee the widespread lawlessness that has followed the recent rebel victory.
A UN report has revealed that upwards of 40 000 civilians have fled the Central African Republic since the coup toppled the government two weeks ago. The refugee crisis has been fueled by widespread looting and instability that followed the fall of former CAR President Francois Bozize's government. According to a CNN report, around 30 000 of the refugees have fled to neighboring Congo, while others make their way towards Chad and Cameroon. The UN reports goes on to state that many of the centers where the displaced civilians have taken refuge lack basic services and and trained medical professionals.
Upon defeating Bozize's forces, the rebel group known as Seleka, a coalition of 5 rebel groups, took power and installed Michel Djotodia as their president. the coup which removed Bozize from power follows a disturbing trend in CAR history, which has seen more power change hands in the last few decades through armed coups than elections. Such trends are highlighted by the fact that Bozize himself took power through a military coup in 2003. This kind of political instability and constant infighting has meant that although the CAR is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium, it remains one of the poorest nations in the world
As the Globe and Mail reports, Seleka forces moved with incredible speed, making their way from the north of the country and occupying the capital in just 4 days. Shortly before the capture of capital, Bangui, Bozize fled to Cameroon where he was granted temporary asylum. During this time period the Seleka forces caused an international uproar when they attacked a South African force that had been bolstering Bozize's military, inflicting 13 South African casualties.
Though the Seleka forces claim they have taken power because Bozize refused to honor his commitments to hold elections, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has pointed out that "They're not showing any vision. They're not communicating a plan to invest in the country, to invest in the people, to expand education, to expand social basic services to the countryside, the structure of the government, the ministers, it's the same pool of people they're drawing from."
Following the coup the African Union temporarily suspended the CAR from the organization. The United States was also quick to condemn the coup but pressured the new CAR government to uphold a commitment to democracy and quickly hold elections. After the rebels removed Bozize from power The Washington Times reported that the United States and Uganda had suspended their hunt for the notorious warlord Joseph Kony, who is thought to be hiding in the unstable nation.
In addition to the political instability caused by the coup, the country remains ravaged by the widespread looting brought on by the breakdown in security that followed the overthrow. As one UNICEF worker reports, supermarkets have been stripped of all their goods. Additionally schools have also been emptied and vandalized which has destroyed much of the volatile infrastructure the UN organization had managed to set up. Even more disconcerting was a statement by Doctors Without Borders reporting that hospitals in the capital of Bangui and around the country had also been the target of looting. Such widespread theft and destruction means that the effects of the coup on infrastructure and services will be felt for years to come.
More about Central african republic, Congo, Chad, South Africa, Seleka
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