LIVES THREATHENED AND FORGOTTEN
The Central African Republic is an extremely unstable country in which conflict, interventions and coups d’état have taken place regularly over the last fifty years.
The violence broke out in December 2012 when the rebel coalition Seleka staged a coup d’état in the capital, Bangui. As a consequence, the then president, François Bozizé, fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Michel Djotodia was proclaimed the new president at that moment. Anti Balaka militias were formed in response to the attacks of the Seleka militias and since then violence has become an established part of the population’s daily life.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Families of Chadian origin who fled the Central African Republic to escape the armed conflict and have been accommodated in Doyaba camp on the outskirts of the town of Sarh, southern Chad. They are now trying to make a life for themselves, but the lack of food is a threat to their survival.
A refugee uses a map to show the painful flight to escape the violence and insecurity that was threatening his and his family’s lives. Most of the people who have fled from the Central African Republic are peasants. They have lost their families under extremely violent circumstances. Their homes have been burnt down and their land destroyed.
Jeanne Berat is 25 years old and has 5 children. She fled from her village, Daga in the Central African Republic, when an armed group destroyed it and killed her husband. She walked through the woods with one of her children on her shoulders and another on her back until they reached a border town in Chad, where a family took her in.
In places like Maïbo the population has tripled with the arrival of refugees like Jeanne. ‘When I arrived, a family took me in and lent me a house’, she explains. Her daily routine consists of getting up early to fetch water. Then she helps someone in the camp, like she used to do in her own country, so she can provide food for her children.
There are days in Maïbo when there is nothing to eat. Jeanne tells us that when this happens the children go into the woods to collect leaves from wild bushes, she prepares these and this is the only thing they will have to eat before they go to bed. The situation is now desperate even for those who were already living there. The family that took her in has 10 children and does not have anything to eat either.
At the moment, 2.7 million people within the country out of a total population of 4.6 million are in humanitarian needs. These people have all fled to safer communities; these have seen their populations triple in a very short space of time, leading to a shortage of food, which was already in short supply before the arrival of the displaced people. The violence has prevented farmers from cultivating their fields and now the harvests are insufficient. Food prices have increased and many families can only manage to eat once a day.
In addition to the more than 436,000 internally displaced people, more than 462,000 people have fled over the last year to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as southern Chad, where more than 94,000 people have been arriving in successive waves since the end of 2013.
The conflict continues to pose a threat to the lives of civilians and the people living in the camps are in desperate need of drinking water and sanitation.
Jeanne Berat managed to flee from the violence in CAR with her children and sought refuge in Chad where one family gave her a house to live in. She lost everything and now she has to work very hard to be able to feed her children. “There are days that we do not get anything to eat. Then, my children go to the forest and gather wild leaves with which we do a kind of soup”, she says.
Jean Marc Ndoubadegue
Jean Marc Ndoubadegue is a refugee of the Central African Republic with 5 children. He fled with his family, and with his nephews (the children of his murdered brothers) at the other side of the border, in Chad. “When I was in CAR, I had everything necessary to eat. But once here, it is difficult to survive”, he says. He tries to find work with people in the host communities or looks for wild leaves to cook and to eat.