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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
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.

VOA Blogs

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