It was a strange day yesterday, a very strange day indeed. There was the world media event that was the Nelson Mandela memorial, President Obama et al involved in a ‘selfie’ caught on camera by the press and then there was the conflict in Central African Republic.
The French Army, there as peace keepers, peace makers actually but I’m sure you know what I mean banned all media activity for the day. This is unusual to say the very least. Journalists were banned from filming with the French Forces, cancelled until further notice.
Journalists were left to report and film in the absence of armed protection and so they did what journalists do, they made reports. And these reports, what did they say?
They told the story of a lawless country, of streets barred to ordinary people and to the journalists as it happens. But yesterday the army roadblocks had been removed, almost as if the effort to prevent further slaughter by the militia were suspended for the day! And then the news came that French President Francois Holland was to visit or more accurately fly into a secure, (very secure actually, the army had been taken off the streets to protect him during the visit) airport surrounded by soldiers and barbed wire then fly back out again.
Nonetheless journalists did witness some peacekeeping forces in action. Forces from FOMAC from the UN, African Troops this time were engaged in a fire-fight with local militia whilst covering people seeking to go about their business as usual as possible in these extraordinary circumstances. At least one was felled, killed I don’t know but probably and given the reports possibly from gunfire from his own troops who were seen to be firing what can be best described as in a chaotic manner.
But did we see the report? Not unless you go looking for the information.
I am reminded of Romeo Dalliers, the most senior UN military official on the ground during the Rwandan conflict who said of Africa and Africans that they were people who had nothing to lose except their lives. But that their lives were worthless in the eyes of the world and so what should be expected is more not less conflict, more not less hate, and more not less death.
The death of the two French Soldiers is without doubt a tragedy, but we have to place a higher value on human life, all human life no matter where they were born, what their wealth, no matter what their skin colour or who they pray too. Human life is NOT an economic statistic!
- ‘He lies motionless on the road’: peacekeeping soldier shot in CAR – video (blogs.channel4.com)
- French army battles militias in Central African Republic’s capital – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Violence persists in C.African Republic as Hollande visits (trust.org)
- French army battles militias in Central African Republic’s capital (trust.org)
- French deployment in CAR ‘necessary’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Two French soldiers killed in Central African Republic (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- French Army Kills 19 Extremists in Mali (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Memo From the United Nations: Stopping Bloodshed in the Central African Republic Amid Ghosts of Genocide (nytimes.com)
- Violence persists as Hollande visits CAR (iol.co.za)
- French troops clash with C.African Republic gunmen in capital (trust.org)