What does persecution look like in Central African Republic?
The Central African Republic (CAR) has been in constant conflict since 2013—and the persecution situation has changed very little in that period. Many of the factions (including the infamous Wagner mercenary group from Russia) involved in the decade-long conflict have been credibly accused of human rights violations, even as they now control much of the country. Christian leaders who dare to publicly denounce the violence have been threatened, and their church buildings have been burned and ransacked.
Some of the anti-government militias target the Christian community, and in the many regions these rebel groups control, believers are at risk for abduction, murder, sexual violence and other horrific treatment. Militias also force believers into their ranks, leaving devastated families and communities. Christians in conflict zones are at risk not just because of their faith, but also simply because they are in conflict zones.
The conflict has resulted in the displacement of thousands of Christians forced to live in camps and lose their homes and livelihoods. In addition to the insecurity and violence, converts from Islam also face persecution (ostracized, pressured and even attacked) from their immediate family members and local community. Believers risk discrimination in the workplace, forced marriage, and having their children taken away. The threat is very real for Christians across CAR.
Violent persecution against Christians is most severe in the country's northern and eastern regions. But Christians who are converts from Islam face pressure across Central African Republic.
"One Sunday after the church service, [my husband] picked up some clients to take them to the neighbouring village. Armed Fulani men stopped him and shot him. Christians are their preferred targets."Zakia, a widow in Central African Republic whose husband was killed by militants while he was driving a taxi
Life continues to be hard and dangerous for Christians in Central African Republic. The violent conflict between the various factions around the country shows no signs of stopping, and Christian communities are often caught in the middle. Many churches have had to close because of the violence, and Christian homes and businesses have been attacked and ruined. Both Christians and Muslims have been forced into displacement camps, leaving behind their lives and belongings. This ongoing crisis worsens year after year as the fighting continues. This year's constitutional referendum passed without violence—but also may lead to increased corruption, as it allows the current president to seek a third term and attempts to silence opposition parties. Observers fear the impact of the referendum on the security situation in Central African Republic.
The situation is made even worse for Christians because of the instability in countries around Central African Republic. It means that Christians trying to find refuge from the violence often have to flee to countries that are also dangerous for followers of Jesus.
Open Doors works through local partners to support believers in the Central African Republic with persecution survival training, economic empowerment projects and trauma care.
- The conflict in Central African Republic has lasted more than a decade, peace seems so far off. Pray that God would miraculously bring about a peaceful resolution to the constant fighting.
- Ask God to preserve His people who risk violence to follow Him, particularly in areas where they are targets of extremists. Pray these believers would be protected.
- Pray that God would provide—physically, spiritually and emotionally—for Christians in Central African Republic who struggle to make ends meet, endure violence and live in political chaos.
Father, the situation in Central African Republic seems so impossible and hopeless. It's been going on for so long, and there are no signs of relief. But we know You are a God who is not limited by the hopeless—we ask You to intervene and bring about changes in the country, that peace would come and relief would be available for people there. We ask for Your deliverance of Your people in Central African Republic, that they would be protected from harm and allowed to worship You. We pray for churches to be able to reopen without fear and for the worship of Jesus to ring out across the country. We know You can do this, God, and we ask you these things in Jesus' name, Amen.