“You both have the devastating, heartbreaking, systematic targeting now of the Muslim population. You also have retaliatory attacks against Christians. That is just so painful to see these people suffer, to see parents who have had their children literally killed before their very eyes,” Power told ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.
The United Nations Security Council last week voted unanimously to send 12,000 peacekeepers to the Christian-majority Central African Republic, where Muslims and Christians are slaughtering each other, and where the government and its institutions have broken down.
The religious conflict follows last year’s coup by Muslim rebels, who overthrew the ten-year rule of CAR President Francois Bozize.
According to the BBC, the Muslim rebel leader who replaced Bozize — a Soviet-educated man named Michel Djotodia — “was accused of failing to prevent his forces from raping, torturing and killing civilians, particularly among the country’s Christian majority.”
In its 2013 report on human rights, the U.S. State Department noted that the most serious human rights problems in CAR “include arbitrary and unlawful killings, especially those perpetrated by the Seleka (Muslim rebels); enforced disappearances and torture, including rape; the use of child soldiers; seizure and destruction of property; and forced displacement.”
Christian militias are fighting back.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday warned that the “ethno-religious cleansing is changing the landscape of the Central African Republic,” and he called for a “future of reconciliation and peace.”
“The past year has brought, in quick succession, the violent overthrow of the government, the total collapse of state institutions and a descent into lawlessness and sectarian brutality,” Ban wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday. “The implosion of the state has created a set of challenges that is undermining stability and security across an already-fragile region.”
Power stopped in the Central African Republic last week, while she was in Africa to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.
On Sunday, Stephanopoulos asked Power if she’s confident that peacekeepers can prevent genocide in the Central African Republic:
“Well, the peacekeeping force is what we make it,” Power replied. “I mean, right now we have to go door-to-door in the international community and get countries to commit troops and police. President Obama has made $100 million available in order to lift and equip those troops.”
Power said the U.S. is doing “more than its fair share” for international peace and security — and it’s up to other countries to commit troops to the Central African Republic peacekeeping effort.
Aside from humanitarian concerns, Power warned about the radicalization of Muslims in CAR: “Most of the Muslim population now in the Central African Republic has been displaced. They’re all gathered together, and we know how dangerous that can be as unsavory elements get in and try to exploit that. So there are both interests, humanitarian and national security.”
Power said the United States has “come a long way” since the genocide in Rwanda:
“We can’t affect…people’s desire, it seems, to want to kill one another on ethnic, religious or other grounds. But we’re much quicker, and we’ve learned the lesson that you can’t make the choice, one, between doing nothing on the one hand; and sending the U.S. Marines on the other. There’s lots in between, and we’re doing all of that in the Central African Republic.”