New Report on Central African Republic: Enough Project Finds Diamonds, Oil, Ivory, and Regional Interests are Behind Violence
Extensive Field Research Argues that the U.S., U.N. Must Help Cut Off Illicit Revenues of Violent Groups, Support a Comprehensive Peace Process
As violence grows in the Central African Republic, with fears of intensifying divisions and northern secession, the Enough Project released its first report on the conflict, “Behind the Headlines: Drivers of Violence in the Central African Republic.” In the report, author Kasper Agger, field researcher at the Enough Project, draws upon extensive interviews in CAR with combatants and leaders to document the ties between CAR’s natural resources and armed groups, including Anti-Balaka, Séléka, and Janjaweed. Featuring satellite images, the report finds that the illicit trade in diamonds and elephant ivory is supplying armed groups, and regional oil interests are at the heart of the conflict. A comprehensive peace process is critical.
Enough Project Field Researcher and author of the report Kasper Agger, said: “To prevent the number of dead bodies from growing in CAR, the US and UN should support an inclusive peace process to break the deadly cycle of violence. The UN should send experienced mediators to work with interim President Samba-Panza to kick-start a political process with local dialogues and reconciliation across the country.”
The report outlines the connections between senior Séléka leaders, Chadian and Sudanese government-backed armed groups, mercenaries, poachers, and diamond traders. It also finds that Anti-Balaka militias also control diamond-rich areas. These include Boda, a town in southwestern CAR where satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe shows that more than 800 structures were damaged or destroyed as a result of escalating violence.
The research reveals that revenues from diamonds and elephant ivory are funding Séléka and other fighters in CAR, enabling them to purchase weapons, fuel, and poaching equipment. Diamonds mined in CAR are sold to traders in the Darfur region of Sudan, as well as Chad, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The traders circumvent the international Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and are likely sold on the world market in the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev said, “Diamonds are a rebel's best friend in CAR, as armed groups smuggle blood diamonds and trade them for arms. The U.S. and China should urge the Kimberley Process to send a review mission to investigate the world's trading centers where CAR's blood diamonds are likely being traded, in particular Dubai.”
The report’s recommendations to stem the violence include:
- The United Nations should deploy experienced mediators to work with U.S. Special Representative Symington and a diverse group of CAR leaders to spur a bottom-up peace process with CAR leaders, involving armed groups and civil society.
- The U.N. Panel of Experts, the U.N.-appointed Commission of Inquiry on CAR, and the International Criminal Court should coordinate investigations and pursue accountability for those most responsible for the violence in CAR, including those involved in sexual violence and economic criminal activity.
- The African Union should appoint a special envoy to address transnational security and economic matters that involve CAR, Sudan, and Chad.
- The African Union and the United Nations should mediate negotiations between the governments of Chad and CAR on a bilateral agreement for the exploration of the cross-border oilfields between the two states.
- The Enough Project has historically focused on grave crimes in countries neighboring CAR, including Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army. Beginning with this report and the Enough Project’s testimony at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing today, the D.C.-based atrocity prevention organization is expanding its work to analyze the drivers and facilitators of the conflict in CAR and advocate for approaches that build sustainable peace.
- VIDEO: Drivers of War, Foundations of Peace: A Field Report from the Central African Republic, May 1, 2014
- Enough Project testimony to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing, May 1, 2014
- NGO Coalition Letter on the Central African Republic and South Sudan, February 20, 2014
To speak with an Enough Project spokesperson, please contact Alec Saslow (720.319.4948, [email protected]
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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.