US Embassy Partially Evacuates as Rebels Encircle Capital of Central African Republic

February 2, 2021Nolan Peterson
US embassy evacuating; Rwandan soldiers in the Central African Republic as part of a UN peacekeeping force. UN photo via Twitter.

Rwandan soldiers in the Central African Republic as part of a UN peacekeeping force. UN photo via Twitter.

Armed rebels have encircled Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, spurring an “apocalyptic” situation, the country’s former prime minister said.

“I cannot leave Bangui […] without a heavily armed army escort,” Martin Ziguélé, the former prime minister, told Reuters during a telephone interview, adding: “It is really an apocalyptic situation.”

A conflict began in the Central African Republic, or CAR, last month, spurring more than 200,000 people to flee their homes in less than two months — half that number have reportedly left the country, the United Nations reports.

CAR officials declared a state of emergency in Bangui in early January after rebel forces encircled the city in a gambit to oust President Faustin-Archange Touadéra following a contentious December election. As the capital city fell under a de facto rebel siege, the US State Department began evacuating personnel from its embassy in Bangui on Jan. 14.

“Due to ongoing armed group activity and supply chain disruptions” the US State Department ordered the departure of all non-emergency government employees from the country, a department spokesperson told Coffee or Die Magazine.

The US ambassador to the CAR remains in the country, and the US Embassy has not shut down. According to the State Department spokesperson, the US remains “committed to a strong diplomatic partnership with the Central African Republic.”

The US Embassy in Bangui issued a statement on Jan. 19 calling on “all parties” to respect a Jan. 18 court ruling that upheld Touadéra’s electoral victory.

“The United States is deeply disturbed by the violence that has continued to take place since the holding of elections December 27,” the embassy said in the statement. “Violence of any kind is unacceptable and must end. The United States encourages all parties to remain committed to the democratic process, to CAR’s constitution, and to the rule of law.”

According to news reports, a combined peacekeeping force comprising military personnel from the United Nations, Russia, and Rwanda is assisting CAR government troops to secure Bangui against a potential rebel sack. Some 12,000 peacekeeping troops in total are on the ground in the Central African Republic, the BBC reported.

Amid the escalating violence, the plight of the country’s refugees is particularly worrying, UN officials say.

“Most refugees are living in dire conditions in remote, hard-to-reach areas close to the rivers without basic shelter and facing acute food shortages,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov said during a Jan. 29 press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

Rwandan soldiers are in the Central African Republic as part of a UN peacekeeping force. Photo courtesy of the UN/Twitter.

While it is against US military policy to comment on any prospective operations, American forces are likely poised in the region to assist in the evacuation of any US citizens stranded in the CAR should the level of violence significantly escalate.

“AFRICOM condemns the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic,” Nicole Kirschmann, a US Africa Command spokeswoman, told Coffee or Die Magazine in an email.

“Any evacuation of American citizens would be undertaken in coordination with the US Department of State,” Kirschmann added.

Due to insecurity and violence, the US has suspended embassy operations in the CAR three times in the past 20 years — most recently in December 2012 after militants overthrew the government. According to a State Department report on the CAR: “Significant portions of the country’s territory remain outside state control and are ungoverned, with the presence of multiple armed actors creating insecurity in much of the country.”

The US State Department issued a stern statement on Jan. 14, warning US citizens not to visit the CAR.

“Armed groups control large areas of the country and they regularly kidnap, injure, and/or kill civilians. In the event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little or no notice,” the US Embassy in Central African Republic reports on its website.

Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine and the author of Why Soldiers Miss War. A former US Air Force special operations pilot and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Nolan is now a conflict journalist and author whose adventures have taken him to all seven continents. In addition to his memoirs, Nolan has published two fiction collections. He lives in Kyiv, Ukraine, with his wife, Lilya.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
US Launches Airstrikes in Syria After Drone Kills US Worker

While it’s not the first time the U.S. and Iran have traded airstrikes in Syria, the attack and the ...

March 24, 2023Associated Press
The Gift jason dunham
‘The Gift’ Explores the Life and Legacy of Medal of Honor Recipient Jason Dunham

"The Gift" tells the story of the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. ...

March 24, 2023Mac Caltrider
uss milius
US Denies Chinese Claim It Drove Away American Destroyer

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said that a statement from China's Southern Theatre Command that it had fo...

March 23, 2023Associated Press
The Speed Project: Vet Team To Run in Lawless, Invite-Only Ultramarathon

For the first time, a team of (mostly) US veterans and active-duty service members will run in The S...

March 23, 2023Jenna Biter
uranium-based ammo ammunition Ukraine UK depleted uranium
A Look At the Uranium-Based Ammo the UK Will Send to Ukraine

The British defense ministry on Monday confirmed it would provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.

March 23, 2023Associated Press
Zaporizhzhia Ukraine Russia
Ukraine: Russia Hits Apartments and Dorm, Killing Civilians

“Russia is shelling the city with bestial savagery,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegr...

March 22, 2023Associated Press
cold brew coffee soda float
The Bitter Barista's Cold Brew Coffee Soda Float

Today, we combine the best of both worlds with this indulgent recipe, smashing together our love of coffee and ice cream with a cold brew coffee soda float!

March 21, 2023Heather Lynn
abrams tanks ukraine
US Speeds Up Abrams Tank Delivery to Ukraine War Zone

The original plan was to send Ukraine 31 of the newer M1A2 Abrams, which could have taken a year or ...

March 21, 2023Associated Press
  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved