With nearly 400,000 people displaced by force, many of whom have resorted to hiding in jungles where there is no malaria or HIV treatment, and 68,000 fled to neighboring countries, the crisis in the Central African Republic is atrocious and yet shockingly unheard of. It hinges on state failure given how only about 200 policemen are assigned to guard a 4.6 million population. Rebel gangs use women and children as human shields against their rivals, kill men and recruit youths at will. The international community has done pathetic little while arms continue to pour into the country, landing right into the possession of ruthless militias. An estimated 130,000 may now be living in the jungles.

But how does such a carnage begin? Where are its roots? It is understood that the calamity is endogenous but not spontaneously occurring; it began somewhere. Twenty years after the horrors of the Rwandan genocide, yet another African state convulses with ethnic cleansing. Journalists have gone far enough to argue that the pattern of escalating violence in the CAR is eerily similar to Rwanda’s. Attacks intensified in March 2013 when the infamous president François Bozizé was overthrown by the local Seleka – an alliance of rebels. Michel Djotodia declared himself president, becoming the first Muslim to rule a nation of 4.6 million Christians. When Djotodia disbanded the Seleka, rebels refused to disarm and veered out of complete control, targeting villages and destroying public records. In Bangui, rebels are free to play the role of judge, jury and executioner. Ghost villages remain behind as evidence of Seleka’s systematic evisceration of innocent lives.

A crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked in the CAR violence is the religious overtone and undertone of collaborations between rebels and bandits. An ominously religious character engulfs the pacts made and broken. Local Christians view Muslims as the venomous Other, and vice versa. “They do not belong here; it is a Christian nation” and other positioning facilitate more gore. No one is innocent here: Neither the Muslim Seleka or the Christian “Anti-Balaka.” At this moment, the international community owes the CAR all the help it needs to haul itself out of this nightmare. The initial assessment of the CAR by the UN Security Council pressed upon a disarmament and reintegration process. That was four years ago. Lip service and a few coins for a 14.2 million pounds crisis is not going to prevent a genocide from happening.