“We are killed when the armed groups fight. The conflict affects us, the civilians. My house was occupied by armed men. Sixteen houses were burned and six were pillaged in the quartier. We lost everything needed to run our business.”—A 45-year old local official in Bria town, Central African Republic.

The five-year war in the Central African Republic (CAR) took a deadly turn for the worse in 2017. The UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, known by its French acronym MINUSCA, is one of the only actors protecting civilians amidst the escalating violence.

MINUSCA was deployed to CAR in 2014 to protect civilians and help to stabilize the country following a 2013 coup. Despite a peace agreement brokered in 2015 and elections in 2016, targeted violence against civilians has increased, the government controls only four of 16 provinces, and armed groups have fractured. In 2017, hundreds of civilians have been killed, over a million civilians were displaced within and beyond CAR’s borders, and attacks against aid workers and peacekeepers have spiked, with 13 peacekeepers killed in the first eight months of this year. In August 2017, the UN’s senior humanitarian official warned of the risk of genocide and called for more support for MINUSCA.

Since the UN Security Council authorized the Mission’s deployment, CIVIC has undertaken research and advocacy to improve MINUSCA’s protection of civilians. Going forward, CIVIC will continue these efforts, focusing on three issues that are linchpins to the effective protection of civilians:

  1. Whether and how MINUSCA’s planning and decision-making is linked to analyses of evolving threats to civilians;
  2. How MINUSCA is ensuring the deployment of well-trained and appropriately equipped personnel that are willing to protect civilians; and
  3. How MINUSCA could improve its engagement with communities that are at risk of or experiencing violence.
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