central african republic
Since early 2013, the international community has witnessed a horrific ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR
Abandoned half-built buildings, abandoned half-destroyed buildings and slums form the bulk of the cityscape of Goma, on the border with Rwanda. Nothing works. Corruption, power outages, and impassable roads - and the palpable threat of chaos - are part of daily life. One in six children born today in the Democratic Republic of Congo won't live to see their fifth birthday. Since the outbreak of fighting in 1998 almost three million children have died here. Within these dire conditions I saw the extraordinary work of War Child and met children who, despite every element working against them, astonished me with their warmth, intelligence, determination and desire to learn and build a better life.
More voices must join those speaking out in support of their rights. At the same time, the UN and other humanitarian organisations must accelerate the supply of aid to Muslim communities under oppression across CAR.
It's Christmas time. There's no need to be afraid, or so the Band Aid lyrics start. Sadly, in today's world they express more an aspirational desire than an actual reality. Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Ebola outbreak give plenty of reason for fear.
Our involvement in war and arms must be confronted; we cannot continue to collude with criminals and must own up to the roles that we play. Too many have suffered and too many are suffering.
We cannot afford to allow another tragedy to take place in Africa and we cannot afford to be complacent in our response. The regional ramifications and the human cost are too great for this to be another forgotten crisis.
This week has seen a flurry of activity around an issue that for far too long has been forgotten, silenced or viewed as an inevitable consequence of war: sexual violence in conflict. All of this is extremely important - but in the rush to 'do something' about the horrific crimes being committed in Syria, Central African Republic, Nigeria, and other conflict zones, we should not forget some basic premises.
I have faith in the human capacity for hope and generosity of spirit. Easter is a time for celebration of the triumph of light over darkness and sacrifice into new life. For the children of CAR, who have sacrificed so much, this is our opportunity to give them something to be hopeful about.
There's no monopoly on victimhood and no fixed pattern to religious discrimination and violence. Despite what David Cameron says, Christians aren't unique in being persecuted, and nor are they always unblemished when it comes to dishing out the persecution.
We live, 20 years after the murder of an estimated 800,000 people, in the shadow of Rwanda. And this weekend, on the anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide, is a good time to contemplate the significance of that shadow.