Pulitzer Center Update

In Focus: Infrastructure and Instability in the Central African Republic

Summer Marion, Pulitzer Center

Image of a UN convoy in Democratic Republic of Congo by Kira Kay and Jason Maloney, from the Pulitzer Center's Fragile States project in collaboration with the Bureau for International Reporting

Among the poorest countries in an embattled region absent from international headlines, the Central African Republic combats challenges of corruption and underdevelopment similar to those faced by its neighbors. A hotbed for sectarian violence, three civil wars ravaged the CAR in the past decade. Existing population security is credited predominately to UN aid and multilateral foreign assistance, creating a state essentially reliant on political life support.

Instability creates an opportune haven for regional rebel factions, most notoriously the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a little-understood movement known for its brutal tactics including massacres, abductions and use of child soldiers. A shortage of information concerning LRA motives complicates efforts to counter the group, classified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. A three-government military campaign by Sudan, Congo and Uganda to capture LRA leader Joseph Kony has so far failed.

In the CAR, government corruption inhibits security and development efforts, though recent reforms have produced progress according to Bacari Koné for the Public Financial Management Blog. Regional insecurity is a constant roadblock to alleviating infrastructural challenges like food production and distribution; a recent IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) report provides an overview and analysis of food insecurity in central Africa.

Reports from NGOs provide a bulk of coverage of the situation inside the country. Mark Christopher of Operation Broken Silences gives a thorough break down of the CAR's internal security climate. The opposition party, citing biased electoral oversight, has currently suspended its participation in scheduled 2010 elections. The disputed constest will likely provoke further instability and increase danger of resumed civil war.