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Rebellion, Elections and the Pandemic in the Central African Republic: COVID-19 and its Impact on Deep-seated Patterns of Governance

The COVID-19 pandemic reaches the Central African Republic (CAR) just when citizens were passing milestones for ending the country's conflicts through a peace agreement and national elections. A new rebellion broke out in late 2020 that hindered medical access to some of the most impoverished areas. An interplay of rebellion, elections and containing the pandemic have become the critical triangle deciding whether CAR can overcome its deep-seated patterns of governance that are stifling political and economic progress.
DFG, 2021-2022

Research Questions

In how far has the COVID-19 pandemic deepened or ruptured CAR’s governance patterns?

Contribution to International Research

It lies in the nature of the deep-seated patterns of governance – outsourced politics, a plurality of violence and peripheral neglect – that research on the CAR even more than in other countries depends on gaining insights from beyond the capital. We will thus use the security arena concept to study changing current patterns of governance on the local level. The security arena is foremost a conceptual tool for comparison, keeping assumptions to a minimum, while drawing on only a few dimensions for meaningful comparison. The security arena is broadly reduced to two relational dimensions – actors and their interactions – around a spatial dimension and thereby grants common lines for comparison across contexts.

Research Design and Methods

To study changing patterns of governance during the pandemic on a national level we conduct telephone interviews with key stakeholders from government, the UN mission, NGOs, and civil society. On a local level we use our well-established networks to collect data remotely (and if the pandemic permits, in person) in two peripheral localities and the capital.

Verwandte Aktivitäten

Vortrag oder Präsentation auf einer Veranstaltung zur Wissensvermittlung | 18.05.2021

Suffering in Silence? Volume 2 – Central African Republic

Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit
Potsdam: 18.05.2021

This event is the second in a ten-part series, which will shine a light on the "ten most under-reported humanitarian crises in 2020". In cooperation with CARE Germany e.V., the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom invites you to reflect on the current crisis in the Central African Republic, truly “the world’s forgotten crisis”.

Civil unrest, wars and natural disasters did not stop for COVID-19 in 2020. In the Central African Republic 2.8 million people – more than half of the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. The country has been on the top 10 CARE list since the beginning and yet is still under-reported, despite the survival of 1.93 million people being at acute risk. In a country rich of mineral deposits and arable land, there has been civil war since 2012, including daily human rights violations. The combination of fragile governance, widespread poverty, natural resource depletion, hunger and displacement, in addition to the new risks of COVID-19 and closed borders, are a heavy burden for the small country.

What political and historical background does this conflict and civil war have? How is the situation on the ground, being one of the most dangerous countries in the world both for civilians and for international peacekeeping and humanitarian staff? Why do governments, including Germany, not have representation in the country? What humanitarian situation is developing on the ground and how is civil society affected? What role do international peacekeeping actors play? Why do we not hear about this conflict in our media? Are there solutions how this crisis can be mitigated in the years to come? We hereby invite you to examine and ask these questions in conversation with international experts.