The World Today for June 13, 2023


Direction: Hopelessness


Fighting in the civil war in Sudan has prompted 14,000 refugees to flee across the border to their neighbor to the southwest, the Central African Republic (CAR). As Africa News wrote, however, the CAR is not a safe haven.

The United Nations recently issued a warning that the humanitarian situation in the country is becoming critical. Some 3.4 million people – around half the population of the CAR – need assistance and protection, because of flooding and internecine violence.

Around 70 percent of those people “have needs so severe and complex that their survival and dignity is at risk,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mohamed Ag Ayoya told journalists. The country lacks the water and public health infrastructure necessary for its people, he added.

As the Council on Foreign Relations explained, Christian and Muslim groups that have been fighting each other for years have all but destroyed the country’s political system. President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020, controls the capital of Bangui, but militant groups are rampaging across the countryside and fighting over turf.

In an effort to inject stability into the country – and perhaps join the ranks of many African leaders and others who engineer their laws to remain in power for many years, sometimes decades, over the objections of pro-democracy activists – Touadéra has scheduled a referendum for July 30 to amend the country’s constitution and remove term limits, Reuters reported.

Pro-democracy activists were critical of the idea, saying that the referendum would upend the progress that the CAR has made since politicians, militant leaders, and others convened in 2015’s Bangui Forum to discuss what the country needed in the wake of an especially serious uptick in violence in the years before.

“The recommendations included ending indefinite rule by the head of state, alongside the need to curb impunity, tribalism, corruption, and coups,” wrote Human Rights Watch, adding that the referendum is a threat to civil society and freedom of expression.

Complicating matters is the involvement of foreign powers. China, for example, recently issued warnings to its citizens after gunmen attacked a gold mine, killing nine Chinese workers, the New York Times noted. CAR officials claimed that rebels committed the murders. But the rebels blamed the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary force that has been active in the country at Touadéra’s behest in order to allegedly improve security, as NBC News explained.

Touadéra claimed he had little choice but to call Wagner. His country needs more than Russians with guns to address its monumental challenges, however.

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