A human rights groups has stated that UN peacekeepers have failed to stop the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Central African Republic.
A report by Amnesty International has described how Christian militia attacks have led to a “Muslim exodus of historic propostions”.
Aid groups have warned of a food crisis because many of the shops and wholesalers were run by Muslims. The UN’s World Food Programme has started a month-long aid airlift.
According to the UN, 90% of the population are eating just one meal a day and the price of food has shot up after many Muslim traders fled the capital Bangui.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled to neighbouring Chad to escape attacks by Christian militias in recent weeks. The militias claim to be taking revenge for atrocities committed by Muslim rebels last year.
CAR has an estimated population of 4.5 million, with the majority of the people being Christians and the largest minority being Muslims. Politically the country has been unstable for the last few decades.
CAR has vast natural resources – diamond, timber, gold, and uranium. Despite this wealth the country has suffered from a lack of development and suffers from poverty. Numerous commentators have argued that Western powers are mainly responsible for this because of their support for dictators and corrupt governments. This meant that it was easy for Western companies to gain access, not only to CAR but also other African countries.
In 2013 a Muslim rebel group overthrew the government via a coup, accusing it of corruption and failing to uphold a peace deal that was agreed in 2007.
The overthrow of the government led to confrontations between Muslims and Christians. This has given rise to an inter-religious violence taking root, which some say has the potential of leading to genocide, reminiscent of the 1990s Rwandan genocide, where Hutus massacred Tutsis.
Despite the deployment of French peacekeeping troops in 2013, CAR continues to experience mass violence, with Muslims and Christians fighting each other across the country, and killing each other in the most shocking way.