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First glance: Central African Republic

By Chris Huber
Apr 22, 2014
©2014 Bruno Col/World Vision
Families have sought refuge at a makeshift camp at M'poko airport in the capital, Bangui, as a wave of killing and looting continues to engulf the country, driving more than a million people from their homes.

The Central African Republic has erupted in fresh turmoil since December 2013. Thousands have been killed and nearly 1 million people, almost one-quarter of the population, have fled their homes due to widespread sectarian violence.

Because the situation is volatile and many areas are inaccessible to humanitarian groups, it has been difficult to assess the true scale of people’s needs. However, the United Nations estimates that 2.5 million people are in need of immediate relief.

With a local partner organization, World Vision is preparing the provision of water and sanitation services to 20,000 people. World Vision is also coordinating distributions of seeds and tools so that 1,150 households will be able to raise crops in the oncoming growing season. 

Here are some fast facts about the landlocked country in central Africa.

Population: 4.6 million
Land area: Slightly smaller than Texas
Neighbors: Chad and Sudan (north); South Sudan (east); Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo (south); Cameroon (west)
Languages: French and Sango
Religions: Christianity, Islam, and indigenous beliefs

Key terms in the crisis:
Seleka — An alliance of rebel groups that overthrew President Francoise Bozize in a March 2013 coup
Anti-Balaka — Self-defense groups initially set up to protect communities from bandits or cattle raiders, but recently attacking communities seen as under Seleka influence

Current conflict’s timeline:
December 2012 — Multiple armed rebel groups combine forces to create the Seleka alliance.
March 2013 —Seleka rebels led by former Defense Minister Michel Djotodia oust President Francoise Bozize in a coup.
August 2013 — Djotodia sworn in as president; clashes ensue between Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters.
December 2013 — Turmoil continues; France deploys 1,600 troops to quell fighting; Anti-Balaka militia reach Bangui, the capital.
January 2014 — Djotodia resigns and Catherine Samba-Panza takes over as interim President.