Another war fought with the machete

9 Dec: A Christian man with a knife chases a suspected Seleka officer in civilian clothes near the airport in Bangui.
A Christian chases a suspected Muslim rebel with a knife. December 9th, 2013.
Credit: Jerome Delay/AP

The Central African Republic has rapidly become a place of unimaginable violence and cruelty as Muslim rebels battle the government and Christian militias for control of the landlocked country. The BBC reported a couple days ago that Muslims have been mutilated in the capital’s airport (a massive refugee camp now), and that

There is no more safe part of the city for Muslims. We see them being killed everywhere in Bangui, and Christians as well.

We were at the morgue two days ago, and it really was a scene out of Dante’s Inferno. They showed us the death records in case after case of people who had been lynched in the street, shot, burned.

These scenes are repeating themselves throughout the country, not just in Bangui.

That French peacekeepers witnessed this but did not intervene does not engender confidence towards their efforts- before and now- to keep religious and ethnic violence from engulfing portions of the country where the groups live together or nearby.

With the incredible brutality in mid-90s Rwanda in mind, one would hope that lessons have been learned. However, the history of post-colonial Africa is one of Western nations creating conditions for religious, ethnic, and national conflict and taking inadequate measures to prevent it.

Chaos in 2013: Bangui, Central African Republic

A child looking through an airplane window, Bangui, CAR. Credit: Rebecca Blackwell

The bloody sectarian struggle in the Central African Republic has gone underreported throughout 2013. Perhaps it’s just a latecomer to a region with long-standing conflicts- the Christian-Muslim division in Nigeria, the religious and economic conflict in South Sudan, the ongoing proxy wars in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is its own tragedy- one of Muslims fighting Christians, and a government without even the basic means to defend itself.

The airport in Bangui has become a massive refugee camp for those that fear going back home, or have no homes to return to at all.