News / Africa

Repairs Begin in CAR After Year of Massive Looting

Vehicles that have been stripped for parts during looting at the China International Fund depot in Bangui, March 4, 2014. (Nick Long/VOA)
Vehicles that have been stripped for parts during looting at the China International Fund depot in Bangui, March 4, 2014. (Nick Long/VOA)
Nick Long
The rebellion in the Central African Republic last year turned into the worst looting spree the country has ever seen. The Seleka rebels and criminal gangs pillaged businesses, homes, government offices, religious missions, health centers and public utilities.

The CAR's national union of business leaders recently submitted a list of companies that suffered looting and vandalism after March 24 of last year, the day the Seleka rebel alliance seized power in Bangui.

The list of 23 companies includes most of the important businesses in the country.

While the scale of their losses has yet to be calculated, visiting just a few sites around Bangui gives an indication of how damaging the recent upheavals have been.

Road construction firm looted

VOA visited the main depot of the country's biggest road construction firm, the China International Fund.  One of the managers, Cyriaque Motoumba, says looters took vast amounts of building materials and equipment.

He says they emptied the containers of cement and also they took the steel reinforcement bars that the Chinese had stocked in eight of the containers, so now there is nothing.

Motoumba says 400 tons of steel bars were loaded onto trucks by the Seleka and driven away - to Chad, he believes, because that is where many Seleka mercenaries came from.

Several vehicles were stolen, he says, and it's clear some of the other vehicles were taken apart.  He shows the inside of a tractor engine.

"There’s no battery, and they took out the fuel injector, the starter and even the driver’s seat," he said.

Why didn’t they drive the tractors away? 

"Chinese vehicles like these are too noticeable," he said.  "People would see them and would see who was driving them."

He estimates the company took losses of about $14 million from the looting.

Health structures also targeted

Some figures have been collected for damage to health structures.  The United Nations says that out of 117 health structures assessed to date, fully 50 percent were looted and 42 percent damaged. 

The head of a health center in Bangui's Petevo district, Ouba Mossoro, showed VOA around the premises.

"Well, as you see, there’s nothing left - the medicines were stolen, everything was looted including a sum of money," he said.

The medical charity Alima, with help from the U.N. Children’s Fund, has started rejuvenating another health center in Bangui, installing a generator, repairing a water tank, and providing equipment, salaries and training.

Pierre Kojan, a doctor working for Alima at the center, tolds VOA he doesn’t attribute the degradation at this health center to looting.

"It was a progressive decline, owing to lack of maintenance, with the result that the maternity ward had no instruments, no water and in fact nothing of what was needed for babies to be delivered safely," he said.

UNICEF has also helped to restore clean water supplies in a number of CAR cities, including Bangui, where it is installing a new pump in the Oubangui River.

"The company had enormous damage in some of the towns where it provides water - notably at Bambari, where its headquarters was looted and its factory was pillaged, and also at Bossangoa, Bouar and Bozoum," said the national water company’s technical director, Pierre Edouard Lebaramo.

Seleka involvement

VOA asked a Seleka commander who is still in Bangui, Mahamat Dhaffane, how the looting could have been allowed to happen.

"Seleka was rightly accused of being the devil," he said.  "There was looting, there were human rights violations, unacceptable abuses.  But, what people have seen with the anti-balaka militias has been even worse."

It is true that Muslims’ houses, businesses and mosques have been systematically destroyed since December.

But how did the Seleka fail to prevent the onset of looting on a massive scale?

Cyriaque Motoumba believes it was because many of the mercenaries they used had overthrown a CAR government once before, in 2003, when they were fighting for ex-President Bozize, and he had failed to reward them as they had hoped.

This time around, Motoumba says, the mercenaries didn't wait to get paid.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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