News / Africa

CAR Muslims Ready to Leave Diamond Mining Town

Map of Central African Republic
Map of Central African Republic
Nick Long
Peacekeepers and aid groups are trying to ease tensions between Christians and Muslims in a diamond mining area of the Central African Republic. The town of Boda is one of the last in the western C.A.R. still inhabited by a large number of Muslims. The government has told militiamen there to stop threatening this community, but the fighters say the Muslims must leave.  

In the past three months more than 100,000 Muslims have fled the west of the Central African Republic, but tens of thousands more are trapped in virtual ghettos and threatened by the anti-balaka, the largely Christian militia groups that prompted the Muslims to flee.

The largest of these ghettos outside the capital of Bangui is in the town of Boda, a diamond mining center where there are about 12,000 to 14,000 Muslims.

About two weeks ago the C.A.R. government sent a delegation to Boda, led by Joachin Kokate, who is a coordinator of the anti-balaka and also a government adviser.

Kokate came back reporting the anti-balaka had agreed not to attack Muslims in Boda.

VOA decided to investigate and arrived in Boda on March 19. The road into the town is lined with burned out and roofless buildings. Our driver and guide, a Christian, grew nervous as he entered the Muslim zone.

He asked a Christian at the roadside whether the Muslims, further up the road, are well armed.

We drove on and arrived at the Muslim checkpoint.

“Hello, how are you?” said the guide. “We thought you were going to kill us, but fortunately you have not."

"We do not kill or harm anyone,” replied a young Muslim.

But that does not mean the communities are reconciled.

Despite the presence of 80 French peacekeepers, and their helicopters circling ahead, all the Muslims in Boda that VOA spoke to said they want to leave. Several people said the French have improved security, but there are still threats, that grenades were thrown into their area a few days ago and several Muslims’ bodies were fished out of the river at the weekend.

Diamond dealer Mahmat Adoum, who says he was born here and has never left the country, sums up the general mood.

He said everyone wants to leave because there is insecurity, the Christians want them out and it is impossible for Muslims to move more than 200 meters outside their quarter.

And if the Muslims leave Boda and its diamond business, they are finished in the west of the country, he predicted.

He says 95 percent of C.A.R. diamond buyers are Muslims. A Christian source put the number at 50 percent.

The Christians will lose out if the Muslims leave, says Adoum.

It is serious for the country, he said, because the diamond exporters in Bangui trust the Muslims to repay loans, and they may not trust the people who want to replace them.

Two hundred meters from the Muslim quarter, a group of youths say they are anti-balaka. Their leader gives his name as Flavien Edgar. VOA asked him if they have agreed not to attack the Muslim quarter.

He said,"we do not want the Muslims to stay here because they have burned our houses and killed our relatives."

He denied they have agreed not to attack Muslims as government adviser Joachin Kokate reported. He also denied that they need Muslim diamond dealers.

"Are you kidding?" he said. Even among ourselves, the Christians, he says, we can buy diamonds. For example, he continues, I work in the diamond mines, I know diamonds.  And the whites can come here and buy them, he adds.

But Bangui economist Cyriaque Motoumba says the exodus of Muslims will have a negative impact on the diamond trade. He says there will be less money to pre-finance the diggers, lower prices due to fewer buyers, and a loss of tax revenue because, he says, the non-Muslims do not have the money to pay for dealers’ licenses

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More