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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More