Chadians flee CAR violence

Dozens of Chadian citizens trickle to a military base for African peacekeepers near Bangui airport in the hope of catching a military plane out of the war-ravaged CAR

BANGUI

Dozens of Chadian citizens, including women and children, continue to trickle to a military base for African peacekeepers near Bangui airport in the hope of catching a military plane out of the war-ravagedCentral African Republic (CAR).

“It’s not safe for us here anymore,” Maguirgue Homore, a Canadian national, told Anadolu Agency inside the base.

“I saw four people die,” said Homore, who had come to study political science at Bangui University.

After three years his education is in doubt as he now has to leave the country.

CAR, a mineral-rich landlocked country, descended into anarchy in March, when ex-Seleka rebels – thought to be largely Muslims – ousted Christian president François Bozize, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.

According to UN estimates, more than 400,000 people – nearly ten percent of the country’s 4.6 million-strong population – have abandoned their homes as a result of the violence.

Cars continued to arrive at the military base, with Chadian citizens being forced to stay in a plane hangar.

Women and children were amongst those arriving in over packed cars.

Children clutched their younger siblings, whilst others helped carry the family luggage.

Chadian troops, who form part of the African Union peacekeeping force, MISCA, were there assisting their compatriots.

A military plane and a helicopter landed kicking up the dust.  But it was not for the civilians. It was for military use only.

-Unsafe-

Abdullah, another Chadian, had been in the base for a day.

“There is no peace or security here for us,” he told AA as he carried his suitcase and stood in the shade of the hangar.

“No one is really helping us since the situation started,” he lamented looking at compatriots standing out in the sun.

“It has got worse and worse. I just want to go back home to my country,” asserted Abdullah.

Abdullah, like most of the Chadians we interviewed, lived in Kilometer 5, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Bangui.

At least 29 Muslims were killed when the Christian militia anti-balaka attacked the neighborhood on Friday.

It seemed that Friday’s attack was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many Chadians.

There were around 300 of them at the military base, though none of the Chadian peacekeeper could give us a definite figure.

The conditions at the makeshift camp were difficult.

As we stood, one man approached and asked me for some water for his children.

Suddenly, all eyes turn to the tarmac.

A private jet was landing carrying, we were told, the head of the Chadian military.

The Chadians looked on wondering when their plane would take them home.

Maguirgue, the political science, sat down on the floor with his arms folded.

“Peace and security, that’s all we asked for,” he fumed.

“No one cares about us. I’m not going back to Kilometer 5.  We can’t.”

Read the original article published in Andalou Agency on 22 December 2013

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