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Last week, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said 99 per cent of the city’s once 100,000 Muslims have fled the violence which began when the government fell in December.
Her report was backed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees who said that ethnic cleansing may have occurred in other parts of the country.
In a statement published on February 12, Amnesty International said international peacekeeping forces “have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in [CAR].”
The organization described global response to the crisis as “tepid.”
Reports said that tens of thousands of Muslims have been displaced, and at least 2,000 citizens have been killed since the largely Muslim Seleka rebel group took over government last March in a country that is largely Christian.
The current crisis in CAR – a mineral rich nation of 4.6 million people – began when Seleka – a rebel amalgamation of several different factions – started moving toward the capital Bangui in March 2012, hoping to remove Francois Bozize, a military officer who seized power in 2003 and had been elected president twice since then.
The largely Muslim rebel group Seleka seized control of the Christian-majority country in the aftermath, and in some instances attacked and killed Christian civilians.
Early in January, the country’s National Assembly selected Catherine Samba-Panza to be the next president replacing Michel Djotodia – a Muslim, and former Seleka comander – who fled the capital Bangui to Benin in early January, a move that suggested violence might be quieting down in the capital.
However, Christian militias and citizens have upped their attacks against Muslim citizens in recent weeks, claiming to be avenging crimes committed by the rebel militias last year.
In December, UN Security Council mandated an investigation of human rights abuses in Central African Republic for an initial period of one year to assist building a case against perpetrators should the need arise.
But this did little to halt the attacks.
In January, Adama Dieng, the UN’s chief special advisor on genocide prevention, warned that CAR was at a “high risk of crimes against humanity and genocide.”
Citing reports of atrocities being committed even against children and entire villages being razed to the ground, Dieng said, “The level of hatred between these communities shocked me”.
He joined a chorus of other UN officials calling for increased deployment of peacekeepers.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has repeatedly urged the Security Council members to hasten the deployment of peacekeepers and EU troops.
On March 5, he reiterated his plea but this time said that 12,000 troops were needed to maintain the peace.