The Central African Republic, CAR, is now teetering on the brink of collapse following the March 24, 2013 coup that overthrew François Bozizé, ushering in new strongman, Michel Djotodia. The exemplary brutality of his Séléka troops has since resulted in a worsening humanitarian, security and political crisis that has only added to the country's old economic woes.
After receiving international charities working in CAR on August 27, 2013, French President, François Hollande, warned that the country was fast becoming another Somalia. He urged the United Nations and African Union to act fast to save the situation.
As continuing signs of the worsening security situation in CAR, some 5,000 residents of the capital, Bangui, on August 29, 2013 took refuge at the city's airport after Séléka troops carried out a deadly disarmament bid of Bozizé troops in their stronghold of Boy-Rabe neighbourhood. Not only were people killed in two-day operation, property was also looted by the troops.
Five months after the rebel takeover, Bangui is yet to return to normal life, talk less of the rest of the country where Séléka soldiers reign as unchallenged warlords, harassing and pillaging hapless communities of the little they still have left. Moreover, the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in Central African Republic, MICOPAX, sub-regional peacekeepers in the country are too few to make any impact for the vast country of 622,980 square km.
Malnutrition, Looming Famine
The insecurity in CAR has caused disruptions to agriculture and the displacement of about one and half million people of the 4.6 million population. An estimated 1.6 million people are understood to be in need of food, with some 60,000 children suffering from malnutrition. Aid agencies say persistent insecurity and bad roads have limited their access to only 20 per cent of the country. As a result, malaria morbidity and mortality rates have been on the increase, adding to the resurgence of other common diseases.
The crisis has sent over one million children out of school, the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF says. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, notes that the country's entire population has been affected by the humanitarian crisis, with a third uprooted from their homes. Prospects of effective schooling for children for now remain an illusion as schools were vandalised both in the brief rebel onslaught that culminated in the coup and its aftermath. Also, teachers, without pay for months just like other State employees, have fled their stations to escape Séléka harassment. Similarly, health facilities have been plundered, leaving the sector in shambles. Private homes, businesses, diplomatic missions, churches and even the Presidency, were not spared in the rampage.
Compromised Economy, Transition
According to The Economist magazine, the Michel Djotodia-led transitional government's coffers already seem to be empty. A recent loan from Congo-Brazzaville is said to have been spent on paying civil servants their first salary in months. Mercenaries from Chad and Sudan are also demanding payment from Séléka. It now seems the only way for Séléka to retain power is through plunder and pillage.
Though President Michel Djotodia was sworn in on August 18, 2013 with the mandate to conclude the transition in 18 months and hand over to an elected government, all this seems improbable if the current situation continues. And with the donor community having literally turned its back on CAR, the current humanitarian, security, social and economic crisis risks transforming the country into another failed state as it remains suspended from the African Union.