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Central African Republic

Families displaced by violence remain hopeful that peace will return to the Central African Republic

© UNICEF Video
As the situation in the Central African Republic deteriorates, children face a perilous future.  Download this video


By Patrick Flynn

BANGUI, Central African Republic, 3 April 2014 – “They killed my daughter, her new husband – and then killed my little brother. Savagely. You wouldn’t recognize the body,” says Nurumuhamat.

Road to refuge

Nurumuhamat lives, with 92 other people, in a compound in Bangui’s precarious PK5 neighbourhood. His sister Nasafatu is among the group.

© UNICEF Video
Some 601,000 people have been displaced throughout the Central African Republic. Some are sheltering in private homes, and some have found relative security in camps for internally displaced persons.

Children in Nurumuhamat’s compound have said, “We’d like to go to Chad or Cameroon.”

Nurumuhamat is a citizen of the Central African Republic, and he is deeply invested in Bangui. He does not want to leave.

> Learn more about the situation in the Central African Republic.

Security in a monastery

“The militias came, started shooting people and dumped their bodies in the river. We had to call the Red Cross to get the bodies of our parents out of the river. It was terrible,” says Marie Louise.

Marie Louise and her family have also left their home to seek security, across town in the Boy-Rabe monastery. They are among more than 37,000 people who have gathered behind the red brick walls of the monastery complex, on a bucolic hillside outside of town.

The families at Boy-Rabe shelter under makeshift tents. They have strung ropes between trees and hung tarps over them. The tents don’t offer much privacy, or insulation from the cold. Children sleep on woven mats on the ground.

Marie Louise says that the children are scared. “Even if there were schools open, the professors would be afraid to gather the students together for fear that they might be killed,” says the former schoolteacher.

Camps for internally displaced persons – like Boy-Rabe monastery – are providing basic security for people like Marie Louise and her family.

Long way to go

There are some 601,000 displaced people like Nurumuhamat and Marie Louise and their families throughout the Central African Republic. UNICEF and its partners are taking a leading role in life-saving interventions. Some 149,000 children have been vaccinated against measles. More than 138,000 displaced people have access to clean water. And 23,000 children are participating in activities in temporary learning spaces, sponsored by UNICEF.

But there is still a long way to go.

> More on UNICEF’s work in emergencies

Despite their current situation, Nurumuhamat and Nasafatu are optimistic. Nasafatu is confident that “everything will be OK when the peace returns.”

“I’m not seeking vengeance,” says Nurumuhamat. “I am thinking about how we’ll live together.”

On the other side of town, Marie Louise says, “The children are the future of tomorrow. And we need to think about the fact that they aren’t in school. What will happen to our country if it stays like this?”

All communities are struggling with their displacement. The children in these communities are the most at risk.

UNICEF needs US$62 million in 2014 for its programmes in Central African Republic. Learn more.



UNICEF Photography: Children in danger

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