The African Union and the United Nations announced that the Central African Republic's government reached a peace deal with the 14 armed groups within the country in Khartoum, Sudan. Talks had begun on the 24th of January, ending on the 2nd of February. The country had been embroiled in violent conflict since 2013 and this will hopefully mark the beginning of brighter days. However, there is cause to be cynical as another peace deal was signed in June 2017 to no effect. That there was a need to have another agreement is disheartening but still a step in the right direction. There is a clear political will to put an end to the violence.
The C.A.R. conflict was fueled by an insurgency led by the Muslim Seleka fighters who staged a coup in March 2013. In retaliation, Anti-balaka coalitions of Christian fighters started carrying out attacks against Muslim civilians. The United Nations says attacks were primarily launched against civilians rather than other fighters. This drove thousands of people to the Seleka controlled areas. Thousands have died while more than 550,000 have fled the country altogether to neighboring countries. 75% of the country is in poverty and the Global Peace Index says the Central African Republic is sixth in the world in the list of countries most affected by the cost of violence.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2019, 2.9 million people, more than half of whom are children, will need humanitarian and protection assistance; more than 63 per cent of a population of 4.6 million. It is a crisis of unbearable proportions that has just been solved. What is left is for parties to stay true to the peace project and save their country.
The African Union Commissioner for peace and security has lauded the deal saying, “This is a great day for Central African Republic and all its people.” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, has also said, "Let us mobilize to support the implementation of the peace agreement." There is global support for peace, and if this is coupled with the political impetus currently evident in the country, better days lie ahead.
Header Image: Baz Ratner