Stephen Twigg MP raised concerns in Westminster yesterday about the ongoing situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). Twigg is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, the secretariat for which is provided by the Aegis Trust. An Aegis delegation recently met with faith leaders, the President and government ministers in CAR (see report), where over 5,000 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes as a result of violence involving the mainly Muslim Seleka militia attacking the majority Christian population and subsequent atrocities by ‘Anti-Balaka’ Christian militia attacking Muslims. It is estimated that around 85% of CAR’s Muslims are now displaced.

In the debate, which can be viewed here (starting from 16:00), Stephen Twigg made a strong argument that work to prevent further atrocities or a possible genocide by working now in the run up to elections in the CAR and promote peace education programmes was key. The Aegis Trust provides peace education in Rwanda, which could be used as a case study for implementation in CAR. By encouraging peace and encouraging Rwanda to help train the CAR transitional government in good governance practices it is hoped that a longer lasting peace can be established to enable CAR to develop economically, and most importantly to save lives.

Responding on behalf of the British Government, Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, noted the concerns raised and that more than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. He finished by saying, “We have the capacity to assist them in the short term, by providing security and humanitarian aid, but we must also support the country in its long-term reconciliation and development.”

Click here for a full transcript of the debate.