Nearly half a million people in the Central African Republic have been forced to flee their homes ©MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images
By Salil Shetty, Secretary General at Amnesty International
Nearly half a million people forced to flee their homes, more than one million in desperate need of food, thousands abused, raped and executed, hundreds of children forcibly recruited to fight.
The world has not hesitated to call what is taking place in the Central African Republic a “looming human catastrophe”, “complete chaos” and “suffering beyond imagination” in this country of 4.6 million people.
But what has been missing is effective international action to protect civilians and prevent a human rights catastrophe with consequences far beyond the Central African Republic.
At present there are only 2,500 soldiers from an African-Led International Support Mission trying to keep the peace in the country. The reality on the ground is stark. In the north-western town of Bossangoa, 40,000 people are holed up in a Catholic mission. There are only a handful of poorly equipped soldiers protecting them from imminent attack.
Close by in Bouca more than 2,000 people, who have fled violence, are in a similar situation.
The numbers are spine-chilling, terrifying, but they only tell half of the story.
Behind each statistic there is a name, a face, a life. Someone’s mother, sister, son or daughter all clinging to life while the world tries to figure out what to do. Continue reading