Africa (the continent, not the country) has an Alcatraz, and it's the Central African Republic (CAR).
"This is hell within hell," one man states as he flees his home. The war, which conservatively, has displaced 935,000 people from their homes -- 20 percent of the population (20 percent of the U.S. population is roughly 63 million), has also wounded or killed 40,000 people.
It's a deeply divided sectarian country. Eighty percent of the population are Christians, ten percent are Muslims. It's reminiscent of Rwanda, where the minority Tutsi make up just 14 percent of the population and the majority Hutus are 85 percent. We all know how that went.
The two fighting adversaries in the CAR are made up of the Muslim Seleka (alliance) forces, and the Christian, anti-balaka forces. The seleka successfully launched a coup d'état on March 24, 2013 against President François Bozizé (who incidentally came to power after a coup in 2003). Since then the country has been as unstable as a one-legged table.
The attacks, though sporadic, are frightening and devastating. From Human Rights Watch(.org):
...one Muslim woman, a nomadic cattle herder, told Human Rights Watch that she was forced to watch as anti-balaka fighters cut the throats of her 3-year-old son, two other boys ages 10 and 14, and an adult relative -- all the Muslim males in the cattle camp. A 55-year-old man tearfully described escaping from anti-balaka attackers, only to watch in horror from a hiding place as they proceeded to cut the throats of his two wives, his 10 children and a grandchild, as well as other Muslim civilians they had captured. Some of the survivors reported hearing anti-balaka fighters say they intended to kill "all the Muslims."
It's yet another troubled African country that's been used and abused by European colonialism. It's neighboring counties are of no assistance to it. To the north, the country is ruled by Chadian rebel forces (pick one). To the east, Sudan and South Sudan. And in the southeast, the country of Uganda welcomes you with open arms with the Lord's Resistance Army, you know, led by this
guy asshole, Joseph Kony. Great.
As Katherine Child says in the Johannesburg Times, the people there are "locked up in hell."
The Central African Republic needs a hug. And that's not hyperbole.