BUOAR, C.A.R. —
Bouar lies about 450 kilometers west of the Central African Republic's capital, Bangui. The town has become a refuge for thousands of people displaced by the sectarian violence that is wracking the country. For Christians displaced by the conflict, getting enough food to survive is a struggle.
People start lining up early. The monthly distribution of food rations by the U.N.'s World Food Program is not a day they would miss.
The country's food crisis affects not just those uprooted by the conflict. Displaced or not, everybody who is hungry comes.
As the hours pass, the line grows and tensions rise.
Soldiers deployed by the African Union mission to the Central African Republic keep the crowds in line.
Madeleine Kim-Mboussa is among those waiting. She and her family of six children fled their village several weeks ago.
“The Seleka killed my whole family," she said. "My aunts are gone, I couldn’t stay there. That’s why I came to Bouar.”
Michel Sourou Baye is a father of eight. He too has no means to feed his family.
“Many things have happened during this crisis, I won’t name them all," he said. "There’s a food crisis. My family and I fled into the bush. I’ve visited them, some are sick.”
Finally the wait is over. Madeleine's name is called and she makes her way to the food distribution area. Her rations consist of a 50-kilogram sack of rice, 10 kilos of beans, two liters of cooking oil and 15 packets of nutritional supplements.
Just as she is about to leave, Madeleine realizes that one of her bags is missing. But with the help of other women, she quickly nabs the thief.
Madeleine gets her bag of beans back, but her relief is short-lived. She realizes her bottle of cooking oil has been stolen. But Edwige Sonikpi helps Madeleine identify this thief too.
“It’s a war here! Men rob us, they don’t want to share, and we women are always the losers,” she said.
After a very long and difficult day, Madeleine arrives home with all her rations.
“I’m really pleased. If I’d had this earlier, my children wouldn’t have suffered," she said. "But I’m happy. I must say, this is my lucky day.”
Madeleine says she hopes she'll be able to feed her family for another month.