Why a study on the war in the Central African Republic?
Emmanuel Chauvin: This scientific study “The War in the Central African Republic in the Shadow of Chad” was commissioned by AFD’s Research Department. It aims to produce an analysis on a complex subject: the war in the Central African Republic and its regionalization with Chad.
AFD chose to work with the Pharos Observatory, an institute which gives insight into the question of the plurality of religions and cultures around the world. As I wrote my thesis on forced migrations related to insecurities in Central Africa, the observatory asked me to conduct this study.
How do you conduct a study in a crisis-stricken country?
The objective of this study is to provide insight into the links between the war in the Central African Republic and Chad: the military links, but also the economic and cultural links, with the requirement of using data collected in the field. It was not a question of conducting a desk study, but of taking the facts and views of local actors into account.
Two research trips were organized, one to Bangui in the Central African Republic and the other to Chad, in Ndjamena and the south region. Actors’ views were gathered, including from non-institutional actors such as refugees and Chadian traders settled in the Central African Republic for several generations. The study is supplemented by maps and testimonies.
What conclusions have you drawn?
This study has shown the close complementarity of several territorial phenomena: conflicts, trade and regional integration. Firstly, Chadian actors played a major role in the regional escalation of the conflict in the Central African Republic via cross-border military flows.
Secondly, the conflicts have led to a regional disintegration between the two countries, through a reduction in economic flows and a political compartmentalization between communities.
Thirdly and more generally, the case of the Central African Republic/Chad tandem calls into question the future forms which need to be given to regional security and development instruments in Africa, in a context where national geopolitical interests intersect on the continent and the gap between emerging regional powers and the most fragile States is widening.