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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid