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Humanitarian context

The Central African Republic is the same size as France and Belgium put together, with 4.6 million inhabitants scattered across an environment alternating between wooded savannah and virgin forest. It is also - and more importantly - one of the poorest countries in the world, neglected by the international community for more than 20 years.  The crisis now hitting the country is rooted in its history, which was shaped by a series of military coups and a lack of human and financial investment.

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has been operating in the Central African Republic since the beginning of 2007, following the civil war which opposed various rebel groups and the government of François Bozizé.

August 2012 saw the emergence of a group called Séléka, opposed to President Bozizé and predominantly Muslim in its composition. In December of the same year, Séléka launched an offensive and seized power in northern and eastern regions of the country. The negotiations conducted in Libreville, Gabon, in January 2013 led to an interim government being set up, still with François Bozizé as president. However, Séléka were dissatisfied by the way the peace agreement was implemented by President Bozizé, and on March 18th 2013 issued a 3-day ultimatum and resumed their advance. On March 24th, Séléka entered Bangui and overthrew President Bozizé. Michel Djotodia proclaimed himself interim head of state but the authorities struggled to restore the rule of law, and the Central African population found itself in a situation of extreme vulnerability yet again. The endemic insecurity and anarchy, and the accompanying atrocities, led to the resurgence of self-defence groups and militias, mainly Christian, commonly referred to as "Anti-Balakas". Anti-Muslim rhetoric - the Séléka being mostly Muslim - became increasingly radical. 

IMG 0540On December 5th 2013, the Anti-Balaka along with the people close to the deposed president François Bozizé attacked the Séléka strongholds in Bangui, and targeted Muslim civilians, triggering bloody reprisals by the Séléka and plunging the country into an out-of-control cycle of violence, the primary victims of which were the civilian population. The conflict then took on a religious dimension.

A significant proportion of the population left their homes, fearing the violence, and sought refuge in makeshift camps or with host families. The crisis resulted in 838,000 internally displaced persons - including 413,000 within the capital, Bangui - and 268,000 refugees in the neighboring countries (according to ACAPS). February 2014 saw the mass departure of Muslim civilians from the West towards the North of the Central African Republic and neighboring Chad.

Although the arrival of international armed forces (French, European, African and UN forces) prevented the carnage from being as extreme as it might have been, the scale of the violence, the widespread use of light weapons and the collapse of most of the State continue to put the civilian population in danger on a daily basis.

Even if part of the population has been able to return home, more than one year after the events of December 2013, the country still has 430,000 internally displaced persons. In the makeshift camps, living conditions are often precarious and insecurity prevails, thereby restricting access to basic facilities (medical care in particular).

The conflict has had other consequences, too: throughout the country, many people have lost their source of income and their possessions while fleeing or through looting. Without resources, they are extremely vulnerable to food insecurity and water-related diseases. In rural areas, the ongoing reign of terror by some out-of-control armed groups has prevented farmers from accessing their land, resulting in a poor harvest. 

In figures

- 4.5 million inhabitants
- 180th ranking out of 187 in the human development index (UNDP 2012)

Last updated - December 2014

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