News / Africa

Violence Takes Toll on CAR's People

A national police car passes by Muslim Centrafricans riding aboard trucks on their way to their villages in Bangui, three days before elections for the next interim President of Centrafrica, Jan. 17, 2014.
A national police car passes by Muslim Centrafricans riding aboard trucks on their way to their villages in Bangui, three days before elections for the next interim President of Centrafrica, Jan. 17, 2014.
Nick Long
Life was never easy for most people in the Central African Republic, one of the continent's poorest countries, plagued by banditry and bad governance for many years.  But the violence that has engulfed the CAR for the past year has taken the situation, for many, to a new low. 

Kpetene is a neighbourhood in the south of Bangui where according to locals there haven’t been any clashes between the rival militias - the largely Muslim Seleka and the largely Christian or animist anti-Balaka - that have killed hundreds if not thousands elsewhere in the country in the past year.

But talk to anyone in Kpetene and they seem to have lost friends and relatives in the violence.

Abel Nguerefara is a teacher who travelled to the southwestern town of Banguassou last March just after the Seleka had taken control of Bangui.

He said on the way there, he was shocked to find all the administrative buildings had been looted, with documents burned or littering the streets, while Catholic missions had seen their vehicles stolen.

He said on arrival at Banguassou, he learned a Seleka combatant had been killed there and in reprisal the Seleka had taken the local chief, who had stayed with the combatant’s body, and cut his throat. They then killed everyone they could see, he says, and he adds that his younger brother was there and they cut his throat too.

Another teacher now living in Kpetene, Vianney Kpokpo, told VOA he was in the northern town of Bossangoa last September when the anti-Balaka started attacking the Seleka and other Muslims.

One evening, he said, he and his family were at home and he was taking a shower when he saw two Seleka come into the house and they started shooting - first at his little boy, a two-year-old, and then at his younger brother who was surfing the Internet.  He said both were killed, the house was burned and he escaped with just the towel he had around him.

A few months later, Kpokpo’s family house in Bangui, where he’s been living with his parents, was also burned down and he’s now left with almost nothing.  He cannot find a job, as all his documents were destroyed, and his health is in an increasingly bad state.

He said he has vertigo, he can’t sleep and his stomach is upset.  A doctor gave him a prescription for medicines but he can’t afford them.  He said at night he lies in bed crying - he just can’t get it together.

Outside the church where we’ve been talking to Kpokpo, the first people we meet tell us matter-of-factly about their friends and neighbors who were killed recently.

Ferdinand Grekoy, said his neighbor next door was killed, and an ex-policeman who lived over there -- he points to a house some 30 metres away - was killed behind that house, along with a Congolese man.

He explained that the Seleka, who he blames for the killings, were retaliating for things that had happened in another district.

There were clashes in the PK12 district, he said, and the Seleka came through here to take their revenge, twice in one day and again two days later.  But there have never been clashes between the Seleka and the anti-Balaka here in Kpetene, he insisted.

Before we leave Kpetene, after spending just over an hour there, the teacher Abel Olivier Nguefrara said he just talked to someone in Bouar, a town in the northwest, who said conditions are really bad there.

He said the woman told him that about 50 corpses were found in Bouar on Thursday, and people have been coming to reclaim the bodies.  He said nearly all of those people are Muslims.

As we drive away we see French armored cars parked nearby.  Our taxi driver said three bodies were found there in the morning.

The CAR’s transitional national parliament is due to elect a new interim president Monday. The U.S. government has urged the parliamentarians to choose the new leader transparently, and to select a leader of integrity who can restore stability to this chaotic, strife-torn country.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs