Fear stalks CAR after rebel takeover

2013-07-19 09:32
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kaga Bandoro - Henri Ngoa, a nurse at a hospital in Kaga Bandoro north of the Central African Republic capital, says that four months after rebels overthrew the president, "the fear is still here".

"Even if they are sick, people are afraid of seeking treatment. They would rather stay in the bush than risk facing the Seleka," he says, referring to the rebel coalition that ousted president Francois Bozize on 24 March.

"What have we got left? Nothing, except those beds without mattresses or mosquito nets."

The hospital staff are left to stare at empty rooms after "everything was pillaged" by Seleka fighters in the chaos following the uprising.

The latest crisis in the chronically unstable former French colony has been the hardest to endure for Kana Bandoro, a market town of 26 000 people, mostly farmers, about 350km from Bangui, according to accounts collected by AFP.

Stolen

Regina, a 21-year-old woman, recounts how "everything was stolen" from her modest house after the rebels arrived on 25 December following the launch of their offensive.

"Members of my family were killed, others took refuge in the countryside for fear of being killed or raped," says the young mother of two.

"Ever since, we subsist on cassava and vegetables. Now we only get one meal in two."

"The people have suffered greatly since Christmas," says the local bishop, Albert Vanbeul, a Belgian septuagenarian who arrived in Central Africa 20 years ago.

"Although the situation has improved a little in the past two weeks, the main problem is the total absence of any authority. More police, more justice ... a new district administrator arrived in the past few days, but he has no resources," he said.

After a key Seleka leader, Michel Djotodia, proclaimed himself president in Bangui and eventually came to head a transitional government under international pressure, Seleka fighters took power where they could.

In Kaga Bandoro, they have taken control of the police station and several other important buildings, but many of them are very young, and they do not speak the local language, Songo.

The Seleka rebels have come from as far away as frontier territory in the north or even from Chad and Sudan on the other side of the border.

"Until last week, their chief spoke in Arabic, not even in French," deputy mayor Pascal Zoumbeti says.

It is difficult in such circumstances for the new rulers to assert any legitimate authority acknowledged by local people.

'Nothing we could do'

The plight of people in Kaga Bandoro is not uncommon in a deeply poor, landlocked nation that has seen a succession of coups, military mutinies, rebellions and prolonged pay strikes since independence from France in 1960.

The lack of good governance left much of the north in the hands of bandit groups and hindered the exploitation of potential resources including uranium, gold and diamonds.

To regain any sense of security, the residents of Kaga Bandoro increasingly rely on the presence of 50 Congolese troops in a multi-national peacekeeping force (Fomac), provided by regional countries to try to prevent any further descent into chaos.

The Fomac local commander, Captain Olivier Ondougo, said that the security situation had stabilised and that Seleka soldiers have "changed mentality" and abandoned their "rebellious behaviour".

But suspicions remain high and those who own cars prefer to park them overnight on the Fomac base.

Coming back

This applies particularly to those working for relief agencies, who are coming back after leaving the region because of insecurity earlier this year, with the exception of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

But the return of aid workers is delicate, especially for UN agencies such as the UN Children's Fund and the World Food Programme, since their headquarters were totally looted and devastated.

"There was nothing we could do when the Seleka army arrived. They stole computer equipment, vehicles, food and medicine stocks. In the weeks following, the population boarded up their doors," says Sylvain Yakara, a senior UN worker.

Recently Valerie Amos, UN deputy secretary-general in charge of humanitarian issues, said it was vital that "the UN presence returned" to the region, but added that it was also necessary for the new authorities to "re-establish security".

Precarious situation

While the country waits for security to improve, "the situation will remain extremely precarious" with the "risk of a major humanitarian crisis in 2014," says Pascal Monier, the Bangui chief of the European Union humanitarian service, ECHO.

A dozen relief agencies have warned of starvation facing the whole population of 4.6 million.

Early in July, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) also warned in a report that Central Africa faces a meltdown in health care services, due to systematic looting of medicines, medical equipment and diagnostic tools. "The people have effectively been abandoned just when they most need help," the document said.

Already the rates of infant mortality and malaria are on the rise this year, according to health authorities.

Read more on:    car  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.