The purpose of this research is to assess the security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) for the period from 1 January 2018 to 23 March 2019. This document is an update of two COI Focuses: one on the security situation in the CAR of 17 November 2017 and the other on the security situation in Bangui of 19 April 2018. Documentary research was closed on 25 March 2019.
During 2018, the country was the scene of frequent fighting between armed groups and of violence against civilians. Violent incidents took place in the capital in April and May 2018. An AU-led peace agreement, the eighth since 2013, was signed in Khartoum on 5 February 2019 between the authorities and 14 armed groups. In accordance with the Khartoum recommendations, an inclusive government was formed in early March 2019. Several armed groups considered they were under-represented and questioned their participation in the government and their further compliance with the peace agreement. At the end of March 2019, all parties reached an agreement on the composition of a new government.
The mandate of the MINUSCA, which has been present in the CAR since 2014, was renewed until November 2019. At the beginning of 2019, the UN mission was composed of more than 15,000 personnel. As for the Central African forces, the number of FACA (army) personnel was 7,700, whereas the FSI (police and gendarmerie) were just over 3,000. Their redeployment in the country has started but is being hampered by the international arms embargo imposed on the CAR since 2013.
The sources consulted estimate that armed groups control 70% to 80% of the CAR’s territory. The most important are the ex-Séléka militias and the anti-Balaka groups. Other smaller and regionally based groups are also present. In the capital Bangui, self-defence militias are established in the PK5 Muslim neighbourhood, in the third district.
The period covered by this report was mainly marked by clashes between armed groups over the allocation of natural resources and the control of pastoralist routes, by the criminal activities of these groups and by communal violence. Several sources, including HRW, note that the violence in Bangui in April-May 2018 has revived religious tensions. Armed groups were responsible for human rights violations, including killings, abductions, destruction of civilian property, looting, denial of humanitarian access, occupation and attacks on health centres, schools and places of worship. The national defence and security forces have also committed human rights violations consisting mainly of harassment, threats, physical attacks, extortion and arbitrary detention.
Civilians were the main target of violence by armed groups. In some cases, they are targeted because of their association with a rival group or community. One source (Enough Project) reports that both Christians and Muslims were targeted by armed groups in 2018 because of their religious affiliation. Another source (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) points out that religious leaders were targeted because of their commitment to reconciliation between communities. The MINUSCA as well as humanitarian aid workers have also been targeted by armed groups.
Sources (UN, HRW) indicate that the government controls the capital and the surrounding areas to the west. Apart from episodes of violence due to criminal gang activity in the PK5 neighbourhood and communal violence in April-May 2018, Bangui has experienced only isolated security problems. Outside the capital, security conditions are described as persistently unstable.
According to UN estimates, there were 650,000 internally displaced persons in the Central African Republic as of January 2019, and 575,000 CAR refugees in neighbouring countries (Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo and DRC). Nearly 3 million people out of an estimated population of 4.6 million require urgent humanitarian assistance. Due to the lack of security, aid workers had to withdraw from some areas. The UN reports that the CAR government is unable to provide basic infrastructure and services to the population outside Bangui. Many schools remain closed in the interior of the country. Internally displaced persons often lack freedom of movement outside the settlements where they have found refuge.
The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EASO, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not only examine the COI Focuses written by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out-of-date does not mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.
When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.
There is no policy paper for this country available on the website.