Central Africa Republic: Voices From Bangui
Roque lives in the Castors IDP Camp and has missed school for two months. “Everything is blocked. As you can see, we are not working. We are not doing anything. My mother manages to sell some small things on the market. Sometimes, she is able to walk to our home and bring back some vegetables that we were growing. But usually we have to wait until the evening to eat. We only have one meal a day. It’s not good for our health. We are asking our Muslim brothers to stop their exactions so we can all resume our lives.”
Follow Alexis Masciarelli on Twitter!
Marie-Chantal lives in the Castors IDP Camp with her husband, children, and grand-children under a tarpaulin. They sleep on mats. “We are suffering terribly. I can’t even go to the market. Why should I go? I don’t have money to buy anything. But I’m not going anywhere. Until the war that made us flee is over, I’m staying right here.”
Hamidou has spent three weeks living in the open, on the outskirts of Bangui. He escaped fighting in the town of Boali, where he says several members of his family were killed by anti-balaka elements. “We are living in total insecurity. We’ve been waiting for three weeks for an opportunity to leave for Chad. Even if we don’t know anyone there, we should be able to get by provided there is safety. There is nothing, nothing left for us here. We are only suffering – us, our wives, our children.”
Djadi drovea truck carrying WFP cereals from Cameroon that arrived in Bangui on 8 February. A large number of vehicles are still blocked at the border as truck owners are reluctant to send them over to CAR because the roads are not safe and roadblocks are frequent. The lack of reliable transport has dramatically affected the economy of the country. “This is my hometown. But I have nothing left here. I have nowhere to go. All my family has fled towards the north. I’ll sleep under my truck and wait for an escort to go back to Cameroon.”
Fideline is a woman’s leader in the section 7 of the large Bangui airport camp that hosts an estimated 100,000 people. She participated in a session teaching women how to prepare the ‘Cereal Plus’ distributed by WFP to feed children under the age of 5. Several hundred children living in the camp are already suffering from severe malnutrition. “I’ve lived here with my five children for over 2 months. Food is complicated. We don’t have money. Sometimes, all we can eat are cassava leaves. There is a market in the camp, but without money it’s complicated. We can spend two days without eating. These cereals will help us to prepare porridge for the children in the morning.”
Thousands of Muslims families left Bangui at the start of February, taking with them as many belongings as possible. Most of them are heading towards the north of the country and to neighboring Chad to find shelter. There are still many families waiting for transportation to escape from the cycle of violence and reprisals that has engulfed most of the country.
A street market in Bangui where women are selling fresh vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes and cassava. Even if food is available, many displaced people say that they simply cannot afford it, as they have lost their jobs during the conflict and have had no income for several months.
Kilometre 5 in central Bangui used to be a bustling neighborhood. Now, shops and houses belonging to Muslims have been looted and set ablaze and their owners have all fled. Without traders and with only very few farmers ready for the next planting season, CAR faces a looming food and nutrition crisis.
Follow Alexis Masciarelli on Twitter!
Our colleague in Bangui, Alexis Masciarelli, takes us to the streets of the capital where fear and the search for food are harsh daily realities
Follow Alexis Masciarelli on Twitter