By Scott A Morgan
Special to ASSIST News Service
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR) (ANS) -- When the US House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organizations held a hearing in November regarding the unfolding disaster in the Central African Republic Chairman Chris Smith ending the hearing with a plea. He specifically asked to hear from the Faith based Community regarding the situation.
Fighters for the Seleka rebel alliance stand guard in front of the presidential palace in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.
If one has read the media in recent weeks, you cannot escape how the media has lamented about how the fighting has taken a darkly sinister religious tent. When Seleka [a coalition of rebel groups, many of whom were previously involved in the Central African Republic Bush War], launched it successful coup in March 2013 very few media outlets paid heed to the reports about how the Roman Catholic Church or the Baptists were being targeted by the Seleka Coalition. The reason why this was taking place was due to these faiths "closeness" to the ousted President Bozize.
It was not until November of 2013 when the Christians decided to defend themselves. Sadly it has been reported that on December 5th Raymond Doui aged 46, Elisha Zama aged 33 and Jean-Louis Makamba aged 48 were killed in the Capitol of Bangui. These three men who were pastors may have been deliberately targeted. A fourth pastor whose identity has not been revealed to protect him and his family from the rampaging militias is in hiding at this time.
Several Groups have indicated that an actual UN Peacekeeping Force (Blue Helmets) is actually needed on the ground instead of what is currently being used. At this time there are an estimated 1,600 French Forces on the Ground with a planned African Force of 6000 Troops which is in the process of being deploying in increments. Speaking in Washington on December 11th the African Head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) told a briefing for Congressional Staffers that at this time the Africans are in over their heads. The UN does have the option of taking over the mission in the CAR after an assessment is completed.
De facto government forces, known as ex-Seleka, retaliated against Christians, killing nearly 1,000 men over a two-day period. A small number of women and children also were killed
What is clearly evident is that all outside forces (Militia Groups from Chad and Sudan) have to be disarmed and repatriated. Then it will be possible for both a Intra-Religious Dialogue to begin as part of a comprehensive Conflict Resolution Effort. The ultimate goal has to be a restoration of a legitimate Government after a success Disarmament and Reintegration Program.
This is a crucial time in the Central African Region. It is imperative to have a stable country somewhere in the region. A Controversial Peace deal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the recent Coup Attempt in South Sudan will bring the region under closer scrutiny by Security Specialists. The fighting in the Country bears an uncanny resemblance to what is currently occurring in Northern Nigeria. The Country also sits on several major Trade Routes as well. So the potential influx of fighters can be a potential unresolvable issue.
The Obama Administration has provided $100 Million for the Peacekeeping Efforts and has flown in Burundian Troops as well. This is just a drop in the bucket for what the Country actually needs. But is the Administration actually willing to bear this burden or even prevent the deaths of those practicing different religions? The clock is ticking..