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Africa

Violence part of daily life in CAR

Barbaric actions are almost daily in the capital despite the presence of thousands of peacekeepers.
Last modified: 28 Feb 2014 22:42
Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian anti-Balaka fighters continue to fight in the country [Reuters]

The Central African Republic feels a bit like a runaway car; the breaks have failed and it is careering down a steep road. There could be a flat straight around the next sharp corner but then again, there might not be.

Without a doubt there is less violence in the capital Bangui than a month ago. But there is still violence - all of it senseless. This week, anti-Balaka Christian fighters paraded a severed human leg close to a market. They had killed a Seleka fighter near an area, where about 2,700 Muslims are sheltering - terrified. A joint French-African Union check-point was the only thing stopping the limb wielding man and his band of thugs from the Muslim enclave.

Within the confines of PK12 district, Muslims have piled their belongings up on the side of the road, hoping for safe passage to Chad or Cameroon. They feel as if they are living under siege and it is quite easy to see why.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has issued another warning saying the people of PK12 are at risk of massacre. It has been registering the people there, asking them where they want to be taken to after the area is evacuated. But despite issuing similar warnings for weeks the people are still there, still hoping that someone hears their cries and gets them out of there.

Few families, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, have been left untouched by the conflict. A relative of our driver was killed this week too. He was accused of being Muslim (as if that is a crime) and shot dead before being set alight. His body was so unrecognisable that the family buried him before his father could see him.

Such barbaric actions are almost daily in the capital despite the presence of thousands of peacekeepers - it is hard to see how, even if you doubled the number of peacekeepers, calm would be restored.

Over and over again, people who have left their homes to live in camps say impunity is the biggest barrier to any kind of scenario where there is at least some sense of normality. Until the perpetrators of violence are held accountable for their crimes, there is no reason for them to stop.