The Central African Republic is not a widely recognised country and it’s about to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Religious tensions and a decade of war are about to climax in the murder of thousands of civilians. The former Bozizé government was overthrown in March 2013 by the Seleka armed group, leaving the country lawless, awash with weapons and rife with violence.
Soldiers of Central African Republic ex-rebel group Seleka patrol in a vehicle in a street of Bangui on 1 December 2013 © AFP PHOTO/SIA KAMBOU
Rape, murder and child soldiers
Women report that they won’t go outside for fear of being raped, children as young as 10 are recruited as soldiers and villages are burned by out-of-control ex-Seleka forces.
Maxime was raped on 13 April in front of her children by soldiers claiming to be searching her home for illegal guns. The rape lasted several hours and she was held at gunpoint after trying to resist.
One of the soldiers bit her left breast and slapped her. Her cheek was still swollen when our researchers spoke to her.
Local human rights groups estimate there are approximately 3500 children serving in the ranks of Seleka and they are frequently used to committing killings, rape and torture.
It is most common for boys to be taken as soldiers; however, young girls are also forcibly recruited, raped and forced into sexual slavery as ‘wives’ of senior officers.
All of the details are in Amnesty International’s latest report: Central African Republic: Human Rights Crisis Spiraling Out of Control.
We can change this
The UN Security Council has an opportunity to end all of this human suffering. On Thursday they will meet to discuss sending peacekeepers to protect civilians in the Central African Republic.
The international community will only act if we send them a clear message that the senseless slaughter of civilians must be stopped.
You can help prevent the slaughter of civilians by calling on John Kerry (US), William Hague (UK) and Laurent Fabius (France) to immediately support the deployment of peacekeepers at the UN Security Council meeting on Thursday.