IFRC


The world needs to understand the scale of the crisis in the Central African Republic - before it is too late

Even as the media attention shifts from the situation in the Central African Republic, the violence grows worse.

By Antoine Mbao Bogo, president Central African Red Cross Society

Even as the media attention shifts from the situation in the Central African Republic, the violence grows worse. It may not be the kind of conflict that makes headlines around the world – it’s not the violence of armies facing off on a battlefield – but eyewitnesses talk of horrifying acts of brutality. Every day, people are killed; for their religious beliefs, for their money or possessions, or just because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What is striking is the ruthlessness of these attacks between people of he same country. My country.

In this chaos, we have our volunteers working tirelessly to help, to support the activities of the Red Cross and also of other organizations requesting our help. I feel proud to see that the Red Cross and its volunteers are being recognized by all as people who will help, regardless of your beliefs, political, religious, or otherwise.

Despite the violence, which often appears irretractable, our volunteers are bringing hope to those in need. How long, though, will they be able to work under these circumstances? One of their main activities is to collect, identify and bury the dead. But for how long can you bury your own people before the little hope you had – the hope you were trying to inspire in others – evaporates?

Yesterday I mentioned to one of my colleague that I had a little bit of good news.

"A bit of good news?" he asked. "There is no good news here nowadays."

"Yesterday we only collected one body," I said.

"How is this good news?" he asked.

"Well, before, we used to collect hundreds," I answered.

This is where we are now, counting the number of dead people as an indicator as to whether the day will be a good one.

Unfortunately, I can't say that this is my only worry. People are growing more hungry, the rainy season is about to start, and millions are left without real shelter or any health assistance. The scale of the needs is huge, so huge that I find it often difficult to comprehend, not knowing where to start or where to go to be able to make a difference.

People need water but they are too scared to go fetch it; people need food but they can't grow their crops anymore; they need health care but drugs are out of stock; they need someone to listen to them, but who?

Who is listening to them? Who is listening to us? I am in my country. I see my friends, my neighbours being killed and I feel that we can do more; it is our duty, our responsibility.

I feel that the world does not yet understand the scale of the disaster unfolding in the Central African Republic. I fear that by the time this crisis is recognized for what it is, it will be too late.



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