The Central African economy is so poorly developed that there is hardly any modern labor market. Only a small part of the population gets their living through formal employment.
The state is the largest employer, but there are also formal jobs in the service sector, industry and the mining industry. More than half the population often subsist on small-scale farming for self-sufficiency. Many work in the informal sector of the economy, such as poachers, smugglers, diamond explorers, street vendors, etc.
Many educated Central Africans have moved abroad, which has deprived the country of skilled labor that could have contributed to economic development.
Due to the state’s poor finances, many government employees have not been paid for several years. The civil servants have repeatedly struck to get their outstanding wages.
The strikes have meant that the USTC, which consists of nine unions primarily of public employment, has at times been persecuted by the power holders and that trade unionists are discriminated against in the public sector.
The right to strike, assembly and organization is guaranteed by the constitution, but in practice free unions have been opposed since the country’s independence in 1960.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Central African Republic, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.
By law, there should be a social insurance system, but lack of money makes it barely workable. In practice, it is the family and the village community that stand for social security.
There is no working system for worker protection. At least 34,000 people are in effect slaves according to the Global Slavery Index. Pygmies, even children, are often forced to work under slave-like forms.
Child labor is common. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund Unicef, almost half of all children aged 5-14 work to a greater or lesser extent. The children often work in agriculture, but also with dangerous work in mines and in diamond fields with their parents or other relatives. This is despite the fact that the Central African Republic has adopted a code of conduct for the diamond industry that prohibits child labor.
The worst form of child labor is probably the one carried out by the armed movements. According to the UN, the various armed groups had recruited between 6,000 and 8,000 child soldiers in early 2014. One year later, the government and militias agreed that all child soldiers should leave the armed ranks, but it is unclear if this has been done in practice.
In Bangui, there are an estimated 3,000 street children who beg or work as salesmen in the informal sector.
FACTS – LABOR MARKET
6.5 percent (2019)
11.5 percent (2019)
Money shortages threaten UN relief efforts
UN humanitarian work in the Central African Republic may have to be interrupted in January 2019 due to lack of money. About $ 3 million is missing for UNHAS to help people in inaccessible parts of the country. Roughly one in four residents (the country has a population of about 4.5 million) have been forced to flee the violence. Of these, about 700,000 remain in their home country, while around 570,000 people have moved abroad. The UN estimates that almost three million people depend on humanitarian aid.
Anti-balaka militias jump off disarmament projects
The arrest of Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona for suspected war crimes will have consequences for the fragile peace process. Two anti-Balaka militias are leaving the disarmament program that was launched in August 2017. They would have started submitting their weapons after the turn of the year. Representatives of Ngaissonas militia accuse ICC of being biased and targeting only anti-Balaka groups. People belonging to another militia led by Maxime Mokom call the arrest of Ngaissona a “witch hunt”. Other anti-Balaka leaders, such as Sebastien Wenezoui, urge all parties to restrain and stick to the disarmament plan.
Minusca’s mandate is extended until November 2019
13th of December
The UN Security Council votes to extend the peacekeeping force of Minusca’s mandate in the Central African Republic to November 15, 2019. According to the mandate, the force may consist of up to 11,650 military and 2,080 police. Russia and China cast their votes in protest against how France formulated the resolution. Moscow has, among other things, wished that the resolution text would have included recognition of how Russia tried to help the conflict-affected country.
Suspected war criminal is arrested in France
Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, who previously played a leading role in the anti-Balaka militia, is arrested in France on suspicion of war crimes. Ngaïssona is accused of coordinating attacks on the country’s Muslims in 2013 and 2014 and will be handed over to the ICC . He was elected in February of this year to the African Football Association Executive Committee, despite Human Rights Watch accusing him of human rights violations. At the end of 2018, a French court gives a sign to hand over Ngaïssona to the ICC.
Arms delivery from France
France supplies 1,400 automatic carbines to the Central African Defense Forces. At the same time, representatives of the French government say that France would have no objection in principle if the UN decides to lift the arms embargo on the Central African Republic.
Many dead in new riots
Some 50 people have been killed in various outbreaks of violence. Among the victims are a UN soldier from Tanzania who dies from the injuries he suffered when rebels attack a Minusca base in Gambia in the western part of the country. It is unclear who is behind the attack, but, Siriri, an armed group formed by livestock-feeding fulani, is active in the area. At the same time, at least 48 people are killed in the city of Alindao. The riots began on November 15 when Christian militiamen attacked Muslims, who responded with revenge attacks. Among the victims are two priests, one of whom has been burned to death. Alindao is a stronghold of the Muslim Union for Peace Group in the Central African Republic (UPC). The city is located in a region where there are large deposits of gold and diamonds.
Mileage leaders are handed over to the ICC
Former militia leader Alfred Yekatom, also known as “Rambo”, who is suspected of gross abuses against civilian Muslims or anyone who was believed to have supported the Sélécarebels (murder, torture and exile) is being transferred to the ICC in The Hague. It is the first time a person is extradited to the ICC from the Central African Republic. Yekatom previously led an anti-Balaka militia of about 3,000 men. Yekatom, who is sitting in Parliament, was arrested on October 29 after he threatened another member with a weapon during a parliamentary session and then fired two shots at the ceiling.
France promises new support
France pledges new support to the Central African Republic of € 24 million. The money will go towards paying outstanding wages and pensions. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, on a visit to Bangui, also makes promises of 1,400 automatic carbines to the country’s defense forces. He stresses that France should continue its “historic partnership” with the Central African Republic.
10,000 flee from fighting in the north
Struggles between various armed groups in the northern city of Batangafo force at least 10,000 people to flee. Three camps for refugees, several houses and one market should have been burnt down during the unrest. Many people have gone to the city hospital to escape the violence. However, it is not clear which groups are at odds with each other, but both former Sélékarebeller and anti-Balakamilis are active in the area.
“Disarmament of illegal groups to start before year-end”
The United Nations Special Envoy for the Central African Republic, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, says that the disarmament of illegal groups in the western part of the country should begin before the turn of the year. He talks about progress in the peace process and that at least 6 armed groups should have agreed to disarm and reintegrate into society. Earlier this week, the new Special Court for the Central African Republic had begun its work. It consists of 25 judges, 13 domestic and 12 from other countries.
Defense agreement with Russia clear
21th of August
The Central African Republic concludes an agreement on military cooperation with Russia. The agreement is signed by both defense ministers during an arms fair near Moscow. Earlier in the year Russia sold light weapons to the Central African Defense Forces and 175 Russians are already in place to train defense personnel. Reports also come that rebel forces are also preparing to buy new weapons smuggled from Sudan. However, the UN Sanctions Committee has rejected proposals from the Central African Defense Minister who wanted to trade weapons from China.
Three Russian journalists are murdered
Three Russian journalists are murdered in ambush as they travel from Bangui to the city of Sibut. They were in the country to investigate whether the private Russian security company Wagner PMC, which has relations with the Russian government, has mercenaries in the Central African Republic. Wagner PMC has also been active in Syria and Ukraine. The three journalists acted on behalf of the Investigation Management Center (IMC), which is partly funded by Russian regime critic Michail Chodorkovsky, who now lives in exile in the UK. The Central African government says they believe the Muslim militia carried out the murders, while Moscow believes the three were murdered in connection with a robbery.
On the way to a new criminal court
The process of creating a Special Criminal Court (SCC) to legally review the serious abuses committed in the country in recent years takes another step. In May, Parliament approved the regulations to apply, and now also has the Constitutional Court. The only thing missing now is the President’s signature. The hope is that the court will begin its work in the second half of 2018. To find a long-term solution, more money is needed, now there are only grants that cover the work in the first years.
Bemba is released by the ICC
Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former Vice President of Congo-Kinhasa, who in 2016 was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the International Criminal Court (ICC)) is now released by the Appellate Unit. Judge Christine Van den Wijngaert argues that Bemba cannot be held personally liable for the crimes committed by his rebels in the Central African Republic in 2002–2003 and that the previous sentence had not taken into account his attempt to stop the abuses. However, the court does not agree, two of the five judges oppose the free judgment. Human rights organizations deplore the liberating verdict. Bemba, who has been in prison for 10 years, has also appealed against him for bribing witnesses. Prosecutors are asking him to remain in jail until that sentence is served, but he is released the week after he is released from court. However, he is requested not to contact any witnesses or discuss the case publicly. He must also notify the court where he is.
Putin promises increased support to the Central African Republic
Russian President Vladimir Putin promises increased support and widened cooperation between the countries when Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra visits St. Peterburg in Russia. Putin places the greatest emphasis on increased economic cooperation and humanitarian efforts. Both presidents say strongly about the relations that countries had during the Soviet era. Assessors see increased Russian interest in the Central African Republic as part of Russia’s attempt to gain new influence in Africa, not least in order to take advantage of the country’s rich natural resources.
14,000 people flee to Congo-Kinshasa
At least 14,000 people flee across the Congo-Kinshasa border in less than a week. Half of them come from the southeastern part of the country, while the other half flee battles around the city of Bambari in the central part of the Central African Republic. This means that the number of Central African refugees in Congo-Kinshasa has increased from 102,000 to 182,000 in less than a year.
Minusca returns Bambari from UPC
The UN force Minusca regains control of the city of Bambari, which had been taken by rebels linked to the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) a few days earlier, a militia made up of former Séléka members of the Fulani people . Eight people are killed in connection with the fighting.
Peaceful protest against increased violence
Government offices, banks and schools are being shut down in Bangui in a protest against the recent violence which is causing concern for the country is heading into a new spiral of violence. However, most stores are open as usual.
At least 26 dead in attack against church
At least 26 people, including a priest, are killed and even more injured in an attack on a Bangui church. It is unclear who is behind the act taking place near the Muslim dominated area PK 5, where some 20 people were killed in fighting a few weeks earlier (see April 2018). According to local representatives of the Red Cross, the death toll is likely to rise further, as some 90 people suffer severe injuries.
The Ivory Coast sends soldiers to the Minusca force
26th of April
The Ivory Coast sends 450 men to the UN force Minusca in the Central African Republic. It happens since Gabon withdrew its squad from the troubled country, after accusations that Gabonese have been guilty of sexual abuse and even misbehaved in other ways.
At least 19 dead in fighting in Bangui
Struggles break out between a Muslim militia and UN and government soldiers near PK5, a Muslim district in Bangui. At least 19 people are reported to have been killed, including one Rwandan UN soldier, and about 100 have been injured. The following day, residents put out 17 corpses outside the UN, saying innocent civilians have been killed by the UN. Several of the bodies should have gunshot wounds. Both the UN and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra refute the information and say the corpse is used for “propaganda” purposes. According to the UN, these are criminal gangs that have attacked UN soldiers who were in the district to disarm militiamen. The unrest coincides with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Head of Peacekeeping Operations, visiting the Central African Republic.
Several dead in violence in the Northeast
Rebels from an anti-Balaka militia attack a UN base in Tagbara some 30 miles northeast of Bangui. At least one UN soldier is killed and eleven injured during a multi-hour fire. According to the UN, 22 anti-Balaka rebels are also killed. Later that day, the UN force finds 21 dead civilians, including four children and four women, in a church. The day before, the UN force had managed to convince UPC, a militia of former Séléka members, to release 23 people it had captured. These were on base when attacked.
Free Trade Agreement in Africa
The Central African Republic is one of 44 countries to sign a Free Trade Agreement at the African Union Summit in Rwanda. The agreement must be ratified at the national level before the AFCFTA free trade area can become a reality, but it is seen as a historically important step towards increased trade exchange within Africa.
Six relief workers are killed in the Northeast
Six relief workers, including a member of the UN Children’s Fund, are killed as they travel to the city of Markounda in the northeastern part of the country, near the Chad border. They were on their way there to train teachers. It is not known who performed the deed.
Anti-bala leaders are sentenced to life imprisonment
Rodrigue Ngaïbona, a prominent leader in the anti-Balaka militias (also called General Andjilo) is sentenced to life imprisonment by a Bangui court of murder, theft and kidnapping. Ngaïbona was arrested by UN forces in 2015. He has also been charged with committing murder of Muslims in Bangui in 2013. He is likely to be prosecuted for more crimes at the Special Criminal Court that is being created in the Central African Republic.
MSF: Violence stops almost all health care
Because of the civil war, almost all health care in the country has ceased. The Aid Society Doctors Without Borders (MSF) expresses great concern about the situation and says that there are virtually daily attacks on health care facilities, patients and ambulances. According to the MSF, the Central African Republic is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian work.
Catholic bishops urge armed groups to lay down their weapons
Catholic bishops in the country urge all groups to cease all looting and lay down their weapons. This is done in conjunction with a bishops’ conference in Bangui. Violence in the country escalated in 2017, including since France took home the 2,000 soldiers who participated in Operation Sangaris. Work is underway to restructure the national defense forces. Since 2013, an arms embargo has been targeted at the Central African Republic, but Russia and China were given a clearance at the end of 2017 to deliver weapons and military equipment to the country’s defense.