“There’s not only the loss of possessions, a home or the lives of family members…there’s the trauma of insecurity, the sense that they don’t have any safety. They wonder: Will we wake up in the morning?” – Mia Farrow, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador speaking on her fourth visit to Central African Republic
An estimated 535,000 people are displaced within the Central African Republic because of ongoing violence, with 110,000 displaced in the capital, Bangui, alone. More than 387,500 people have fled to neighbouring countries, mainly to Cameroon, Chad, the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Children in particular are bearing the brunt of the crisis. Some 2.3 million children have been affected. Insecurity and lawlessness throughout the country have led to children being displaced, separated, maimed, abducted, recruited into armed groups, killed and raped.
Ongoing conflict has worsened an already dire humanitarian and security crisis. As the violence has continued, the country has experienced a deterioration of basic health and social services. Schooling has been disrupted. Children have become more vulnerable to disease and malnutrition.
Ms. Farrow met with children and women in the southern town of Boda. In Boda, the Muslim population shelters in an enclave designated by red tape. The area is patrolled by international peacekeeping soldiers. Demolished shops and houses of Muslims and non-Muslims alike line the now nearly empty streets of the small town, evidence of the killing and looting that took place before the red line was established. At night, you can sometimes hear the careful footsteps of women crossing the line to be with their husbands and boyfriends confined to the Muslim enclave, a reminder of how close relations between the communities used to be.
“She had nothing”
Mia met with a mother at a clinic, run by UNICEF. The woman said her father and husband had fled during the fighting and left her to care for her four children, one of whom was severely malnourished.
Speaking of the meeting, Mia said:
“She said she had nothing. She hadn’t only lost her clothes, her house, her cooking pots and everything else that she had assembled to conduct her life… She said she had nothing left, literally. You’re looking into the eyes of another human being, and you know she’s not alone. She was speaking for the thousands of people [who] have lost everything in this crisis. You just think, what would that be like, if I lost literally everything?”