5 things you may not know about the Central Africa Republic (CAR)
The political and security situation in the Central African Republic is very volatile. With continued armed clashes and many killed or displaced, the situation in the country continues to deteriorate. Around 60% of the country’s population is under the control of armed groups and 25% are either internally displaced or refugees in bordering countries. Violence among armed groups overlaps with ethnic rivalries and a distrust between the Christian majority and Muslim minority. Since 2016, violence has broken out in almost every region beyond the countries capital.
The humanitarian space in the country has continued to shrink as some areas are simply too dangerous for aid workers to reach. In areas where aid workers can operate, resources are limited. The crisis remains under reported and in 2017, the CAR topped the Norwegian aid agency’s list of the worlds most neglected crises. The international community has been criticised for not showing sufficient economic support to meet basic humanitarian needs. Criticisms have also been made on limited media attention and lack of political action to resolve the conflict in the CAR.
With all the chaos in CAR that has cost many their lives, homes, livelihoods and made the CAR one of the world’s most dangerous countries, little is known and reported on the beauty that lies in the country and how the country’s history has had a negative impact.
1. Spectacular wildlife
Much more pioneering compared to other destinations in Africa, the CAR has thick forests that are largely unexplored and diverse wildlife. Unfortunately, the conflict in the state has had an impact on wildlife and natural resources. An aerial assessment of the in the northern part of the country showed that wildlife populations have reduced. No elephants were observed which reflects the fact that commercial poaching and wildlife trafficking perpetrated by armed groups and other actors is having a negative impact on the elephant population. There is hope however as key species that survive even in low numbers such as Giant Eland, Buffalo and Roan were spotted.
2. Natural resources
The CAR has a very high reserve of natural resources and mineral deposits such as uranium, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber and hydropower. The country also has tropical forests that cover up to 70% of the nation. The forests provide timber while the land is used for agriculture. The country has a rich supply of waterways. Tributaries of the Chari River can for example be found in the northern third of the countries territory. As with wildlife, the natural resources of the country are in danger due to human actions such as deforestation.
As with any nation, particularly in Africa, it is easy for one to criticise the state of affairs in these states while completely disconnecting ourselves from the role history and colonisation has played in how the state has turned out. This is not to say that corruption and poor policymaking from leaders has not contributed to the poor state of affairs of the country however its history has had a key impact as well. From the 16th to 19th century the people of the CAR were ravaged by slave traders. The region was occupied by the French in 1984. The CAR was united with Chad in 1905 and then joined with Gabon and Middle Congo to become French Equatorial Africa. Following World War II, a 1946 rebellion forced the French to grant self-government, in 1958 the territory voted to become autonomous and in 1960, the republic’s independence from France was declared. Since its independence the CAR has had a failed monarchy, a military coup and military revolts. All of these events along with corruption and poor policy making have contributed to civil unrest and the poor economic state of the country.
Although faced with ongoing conflict and turmoil, as with many African states, the CAR has a big heart for sport particularly football. Football is a popular past time for young people and the national football association has made a strong effort to take part in top international and regional championships.
5. Notable Individuals
The country has produced notable individuals that can be looked up to and represent positivity among chaos. Athletes from the CAR include Hilaire Momi who plays for the CAR national football team and Foxi Kéthévoama who plays for Balıkesirspor in the Turkish football league.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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