Few countries have been dealt a worse hand by geography and history than the CAR. It is not just landlocked; it is farther from the coast than anywhere else in Africa. Moreover it is in an unstable neighbourhood, sharing borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan. The diamonds under its soil are valuable enough to be worth fighting over and portable enough to fund militias. It has mostly been ruled by dictators since independence in 1960.
The most recent crisis started in 2013 after Seleka militias ousted the government and installed the country’s first Muslim president, Michel Djotodia, before burning villages and massacring civilians. The militia that formed to oppose them was itself soon going door-to-door, killing Muslims, until a French military intervention—some reckon its seventh in the country—put a lid on the fighting.The CAR is one of those "troubling" African countries, as Hans Rosling put it in his last interview with the BBC, and that is a genuine understatement. Despite very high fertility and mortality levels that are among the world's highest, the population is still projected by UN demographers to double in size between now and the middle of this century--assuming that genocide is avoided and recognizing that out-migration options are fairly limited, given the instability of neighbors. What no one seems to be talking about is something that the country really needs--family planning to reduce fertility and maternal and infant mortality. The Trump administration's reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule would rule out help from the U.S., but other countries need to step in. The situation reminded me of the cartoon below that was published after the most recent UN Population Conference in Cairo, which was held back in 1994: