Last week, intercommunal fighting in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, resulted in over 40 deaths and caused more than 40,000 people to flee to various displacement camps sites around the city. The violence erupted following the murder of a Muslim taxi driver, pitting armed Muslim and Christian groups against each other. The streets also filled with protesters calling for the ouster of interim president Catherine Samba-Panza, who was in New York at the time for the United Nations General Assembly.
All eyes are on Washington this week as Pope Francis makes his historic first trip to the U.S. This morning, he’ll address lawmakers on Capitol Hill, marking the first time a Pope has addressed a joint meeting of Congress. Climate change is undoubtedly one if the issues on his agenda. Earlier this year the pope released his Laudito Si encyclical in which he laid out the moral case for greater protection of the environment, natural resources, and the Earth's climate.
On August 20, 2015, Pierre Nkurunziza took the oath of office for the third time as Burundi’s president. His inauguration followed one of the most explosive periods in this small Central African nation’s recent history.
For months prior, opposition activists and world leaders condemned Nkurunziza’s third run for office, arguing that the peace deal which ended Burundi’s 1993-2005 civil war limited the president to two terms. The country was seized by protests, a coup attempt, and the jailing or killing of opposition activists, officials, and journalists.
The needs of refugees and displaced people are outstripping the resources and capacities of the existing humanitarian system. The World Humanitarian Summit is an initiative of the UN Secretary-General to seek solutions to improve the humanitarian system, thereby reducing human suffering. It will be held on May 26-27, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Since the Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram began scaling up its attacks on civilians, an estimated 1.3 million Nigerians have been internally displaced and at least another 150,000 have taken refuge in neighboring Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The exodus of Nigerians fleeing the country’s northeastern region for government-sponsored camps or host communities has intensified the pressure on already scarce natural resources.
Earlier today, I was in touch with a Somali friend, Farah, who has been living as a refugee in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, for the past several years after he fled fighting in Somalia. I asked him what he thought about President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya this week. He said, “I am happy. I hope he talks about refugee rights.” He then said, “The talk of everyone in Nairobi is that the most powerful man on earth is coming to Kenya.”
Periodic violence, reprisal attacks, recent displacement – the town of Bambari, almost right in the middle of the Central African Republic (CAR), is emblematic of the continuing crisis in the country. In 2013, many areas in CAR descended into intercommunal violence following the overthrow of the government by an amalgamation of rebel groups from the north known as the Séléka. Christian militia groups, known as anti-Balaka, started fighting against the Séléka (composed primarily of Muslims).
Twelve years ago, when I was a high school student living in a small New England town, I remember hearing about Darfur. I remember seeing news reports about the terrible conflict there, and about the hundreds of thousands of people whose villages had been burned or bombed, forcing them into exile.
The political struggle underway in Burundi has thrust that tiny Central African nation into the global spotlight. Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is seeking a third term despite being limited to two by Burundi’s constitution, and by the terms of a peace deal signed in 2000. Nkurunziza’s supporters maintain that his first term did not count because he was appointed by parliament rather than elected. His political opponents disagree.
More than two years since a rebel movement launched a violent campaign against the Central African Republic government, the country is continuing to experience a major humanitarian crisis. In March 2013, the Seleka group (an amalgamation of rebel groups from the north) overthrew the central government in Bangui, and since then sectarian violence between Christian militia groups, known as anti-Balaka, and former members of Seleka, who are mainly Muslims, has permeated the country.