|World Watch List Rank||World Watch List Score|
|Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza||5,099,000 (3,772,000 Christians)|
|Christianity (mainly Roman Catholic)||Transitional government|
|Source of Persecution||Persecution Level|
|Islamic extremism||High Persecution|
Violence against Christians is at a very high level. Although Islamist rebel group, Seleka, has now been driven out of many parts of the country, attacks against Christians continue in Bangui and the north-east, which is mainly populated by Muslims. Christians have been forced to flee from their villages and are denied access to farming fields. Large groups of Christians live in extremely poor conditions in refugee camps.
Bonaventura Noukama lived in Gaga with his wife, Maria*, and two children, Sara and Vincent. He sold peanuts, cooking oil and manioc (tapioca). The day Seleka militants arrived, they dragged Bonaventura 50 metres from his house. Maria watched in horror, helpless to stop the father of her children from being brutally taken from her. He cried for mercy, but they ignored his pleas; the militants beat him, and shot him dead.
Séléka, meaning 'alliance' in the Sangho language, was a movement formed by Central African Republic (CAR) rebel groups and foreign Muslims, discontent with the former president Francois Bozizé and the discrimination faced by the Muslim minority in the nation. Their rise at the end of 2012 has led to unprecedented levels of violence. The group has burnt down entire Christian villages, raped and abducted women, bombed churches, and taken pastors from refugee camps and killed them. If Seleka militants find someone reading a Bible, they often kill them immediately.
In response, 'Anti-Balaka' (meaning 'anti-machete') defence groups have formed. They were originally created to protect their communities against Séléka, but many have begun carrying out revenge attacks on Muslims, creating a cycle of violence. Although many Anti-Balaka members identify themselves as Christians, Christian leaders have strongly condemned their acts of violence.
While Séléka rebels have been driven out of the south of CAR, they are still present in many parts of the north. In Bangui, a growing group of radical Muslims have taken a stronghold known as the PK5 enclave, causing Christians to flee.
The election of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in February 2016 has given the people a cause to hope for a new beginning. Mr. Touadéra is a Christian who served as prime minister in the pre-crisis administration of President Francois Bozize; but his government is facing many challenges, including reconciling his polarised nation and helping it recover from the continuing humanitarian emergency created by three years of intense crisis. The church, too, has an important role to play in relieving pressures caused by the humanitarian crisis in CAR.
For many Christians, life remains hard. Despite Maria Noukama's suffering, she has been able to say: "I have put all things in God's hands. God is hearing my prayer."
*Name changed for security reasons
Open Doors has been involved with the church in CAR for a number of years. Since 2013 we have been have been supporting the church to provide emotional and physical relief to Christians targeted in the violent uprising by the Islamist rebel group, Seleka. This support includes: