Farmers from the northern region of Vakaga in the Central African Republic (CAR) and herders from the South Darfur region of Sudan signed an agreement on 11 June 2019 in Birao (CAR) to prevent and manage cross-border farmer/herder conflicts.
The signing of the Agreement is the result of negotiations convened by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) with representatives of both sides from 6 to 11 June 2019 in Birao. It is expected to contribute positively to securing peace in the Vakaga region, and the city of Birao in particular.
Over the past few years, the Vakaga region has been rocked by violent cross-border farmer/herder conflicts which have fuelled inter-communal tensions, leading to heavy loss of lives, the burning down of villages and a dramatic rise in insecurity. Tensions and violence reached peaks during transhumance periods.
Through the Birao Agreement, representatives of both communities have acknowledged the root causes and consequences of the conflicts, and have committed to resolving them peacefully. In particular, the communities have pledged to:
- condemn all future acts of violence against members of their respective communities;
- refer any threat or attack to local authorities in the CAR and Sudan;
- seek peaceful and amicable resolution of differences without soliciting the intervention of armed groups;
- sensitize their respective communities to the promotion of peace and social cohesion;
- oppose the theft of cattle regardless of which community they belong to, and engage in the search of stolen livestock to ensure return to the owner;
- respect pre-established transhumance routes; and
- regularly monitor the implementation of the Agreement as well as reporting progress to their respective communities.
As part of this Agreement, the signatories have also called on the CAR authorities to accelerate the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reinsertion and Repatriation (DDRR) process in a bid to disarm armed groups across the country. Similarly, they have called on Sudanese authorities to promote peace and security, and disarm armed groups.
A Commission comprising members of farmer and herder communities has been set up to prevent and manage future disputes between the parties that could lead to a breach of the Birao Agreement. The Commission will meet once a year to review progress in the implementation of the Agreement.
HD has been working in support of peace in the CAR since 2007, assisting both the country’s National Political Dialogue and community-based mediation efforts.
HD played a key role in the 2008 Inclusive Political Dialogue, the 2015 Bangui Forum, the 2016 electoral process and, more recently, the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic.
The organisation has also been involved in the facilitation of local agreements such as the 2017 Bouar Agreement between the 3R and Anti-Balaka armed groups and the 2019 Bria Agreement between six armed groups (the UPC, MPC, RPRC, MLCJ, Anti-Balaka (Mokom faction) and the FPRC)*.
Although farmer/herder conflicts are not a root cause of the conflict affecting the CAR, they have fuelled the national crisis. Preventing and managing farmer/herder conflicts will contribute to reinforcing peace, stability and security in the CAR.
HD would like to express its gratitude to the European Union for its financial support which has enabled the organisation to support peace efforts in the CAR since 2014.
*UPC: Unité Pour la paix en Centrafrique; MPC: Mouvement Patriotique pour la Centrafrique; RPRC: Rassemblement Patriotique pour le Renouveau de la Centrafrique; MLCJ: Mouvement des Libérateurs Centrafricains pour la Justice; FPRC: Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique