History of the conflict in Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) has had a long and turbulent history of violent conflict and political instability. Since the most recent crisis erupted in 2013 huge efforts have been made to pull the country back from the brink of armed conflict.
In March 2013 the Séléka rebel coalition seized power from former President Bozizé. In response, militias, the so-called anti-Balaka, and self-defence groups emerged. Clashes between the Séléka and the anti-Balaka plunged CAR into a cycle of revenge killings.
Different armed groups and warlords now control large tracts of land. The state’s fragility in the east and north-east, and the inability of CAR’s armed forces to protect the population and maintain order, have played into the hands of rebel groups. This has worsened local conflicts and left communities increasingly vulnerable and powerless.
Historically, local communities have played a limited role in preventing and resolving conflicts, and instead inter-communal tensions along religious and tribal lines have been allowed to develop. Young people, especially, feel disconnected from local and national peacebuilding processes, and limited access to sufficient economic, educational or social opportunities often increases the likelihood of them joining armed groups.
Numerous attempts have been made to negotiate peace in the Central African Republic. In May 2015 the Bangui Forum brought together 600 people from across the country as part of a long-term national dialogue and reconciliation process. In February 2018, the government signed a peace accord with 14 armed groups – the seventh since 2012.
Our work in Central African Republic
We’ve worked in the Central African Republic since 2010, supporting grassroots peacebuilding initiatives and connecting these to national peace processes. In 2014, we began establishing 12 Local Peace Cells across the country. These LPCs have a vital role to play in rebuilding trust between different religious and ethnic groups, and between communities, local government and security forces. They are often also an essential link between communities and armed groups – negotiating ‘safe zones’, discussing local peace agreements, or even encouraging fighters to lay down their weapons.
After talking with the CAR government about the success of these LPCs, the Ministry of Social Affairs and National Reconciliation launched a pilot scheme to establish a national structure of LPCs in 2016.
Alongside our partners, we’re also helping young people in particular to develop practical skills that will help them find employment or start a business – providing an alternative to joining armed groups. At the same time, we’re also giving these young people the skills to become peacebuilders and mediators within their communities.