News / Africa

Muslims Flee CAR Violence, Economy Suffers

A Central African woman displaced by inter-communal violence takes care of her twin baby boys at a camp for displaced persons at Bangui M'Poko International Airport, Feb. 11, 2014.
A Central African woman displaced by inter-communal violence takes care of her twin baby boys at a camp for displaced persons at Bangui M'Poko International Airport, Feb. 11, 2014.
Nick Long
As tens of thousands of Muslims flee the violence in the Central African Republic, the non-governmental organization Oxfam reports that food security and the economy are taking a major hit.  Many of the shopowners, herders and traders in the CAR are Muslim.

The Seleka rebel alliance that took power in Bangui last year, but then continued looting and killing may have been the worst thing that has happened to Muslims in the CAR.

Most of the Arabic-speaking militia’s core members happen to share their faith, although there was nothing religious about the Seleka’s objectives.

In the past two months the Seleka has been chased out of most of the western CAR, while Muslims civilians have suffered vicious reprisals.

Now almost all of them have closed their shops in Bangui, and are heading to neighboring countries in trucks or are waiting to be evacuated at the airport.

  • A DRC soldier, part of an African peacekeeping force, patrols along a street in Bangui, Feb. 12, 2014.
  • DRC soldiers, part of an African peacekeeping force, patrol along a street in Bangui, Feb. 12, 2014.
  • People collect food distributed by aid agencies at a camp for people displaced by the recent unrest, at the Mpoko international airport of Bangui, Feb. 12, 2014.
  • People displaced by the recent unrest collect food distributed by aid agencies at an IDP camp at the Mpoko international airport of Bangui, Feb. 12, 2014.
  • A boy displaced by inter-communal violence walks past a vendor in a camp for displaced persons at Bangui M'Poko International Airport, Feb. 11, 2014.

At the Kilometre Cinq market, the capital’s biggest wholesale market, VOA asked one of the few remaining Muslim traders, Idriss Saleh, where the meat market has gone.

There’s no beef now, he said, the cattle herders have gone with their herds to Cameroon or Chad because there has been a lot of aggression against them, and they do not have security, so they have left.

Idriss has a hardware store and is still doing a little business, but not for long.

He said everyone has gone.  Nearly all the Muslim traders have left, and those still here have already packed their bags and are going to leave.  As for himself, Idriss said he has packed and was waiting for the convoy.

As Muslim traders flee the country and meat is in short supply, a solitary Muslim butcher waits in his stall, Bangui, CAR, Feb. 11, 2104.(Nicholas Long/VOA)As Muslim traders flee the country and meat is in short supply, a solitary Muslim butcher waits in his stall, Bangui, CAR, Feb. 11, 2104.(Nicholas Long/VOA)
x
As Muslim traders flee the country and meat is in short supply, a solitary Muslim butcher waits in his stall, Bangui, CAR, Feb. 11, 2104.(Nicholas Long/VOA)
As Muslim traders flee the country and meat is in short supply, a solitary Muslim butcher waits in his stall, Bangui, CAR, Feb. 11, 2104.(Nicholas Long/VOA)
​VOA found one butcher, Mamadou Ali Zairo, with some offal for sale.  Prices have soared, he said.

"Before the troubles we have had, you could buy a steer or a heifer here for the equivalent of about $200-$300, but now it would cost about $500 or $600," said Zairo.

Who will replace the Muslim traders?  They dominated the wholesale market and many had come from abroad, with capital that most Central Africans did not have.

"The Christians are jealous, they do not know how to do business, they can not buy anything worth $4 or $6.  They just buy things worth a dollar or half a dollar, he claims, whereas Muslims are buying goods worth $8 or $10," said Zairo.

He insisted he would carry on and he hoped the government would sort out the problems so that his fellow Muslims could come back.  He thought the Chadian government could also help its citizens return.

Oxfam, working with other NGOs including Action against Hunger, has done a survey of the Kilometre Cinq market.  Oxfam researcher Steve explained their main finding.

"Many, many of the large wholesalers who really control the food market, who import the food from Chad and from Cameroon which all communities and all faiths depend on, have fled.  There were 40 big wholesalers in Bangui, roughly, who imported most of the food, and we have found less than a handful remaining and even those thought they would be leaving in the next few days unless security was rapidly re-established," he said.

As a result, there will be less food all round.

Oxfam is predicting devastating consequences for all communities in the country as supplies of staple foods dry up.  

But some people might benefit.  VOA visited a town about 80 kilometers from Bangui on Sunday and spoke to a man there who preferred to withhold his identity but was identified by neighbors as a local chief of the anti-balaka militia who have chased out the Muslims.

He said the locality has got itself organized, and has decided that from now on because the Muslims were no longer here, their shops would be allocated to young Christians who have business plans and are capable of running businesses here, while Muslims’ houses would be reserved for government officials.

Since there is currently no CAR army and hardly any police or administrative authority, it seems likely the anti-balaka will have a big say in who gets the shops and houses.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs