“I am sick and lonely. I miss my children.”

تم النشر: 22 يوليه 2015 9:00 CET

Gerald Bikombi, Central African Red Cross, and Nelly Muluka, IFRC        

Fatimata, 66, and mother to nine has not seen her children for over a year. She does not know when she is likely to do so, either. As an internally displaced person (IDP), she has been living in an enclave in Carnot, in the western part of the Central African Republic, following the onset of persistent violence in 2013.

“My husband died many years ago, after which I moved into my elder son’s house in Carnot. Then, I sold merchandise at the market and used the proceeds to feed and educate my children. However, when violence broke out in 2013, the market was burned down and everything looted. My son’s house was also destroyed and the whole family displaced,” says Fatimata, adding that it was then that she last set eyes on her children.

Due to the displacement, Fatimata joined close to 800 other IDPs in an enclave where, she says, the affected families face a myriad of challenges including lack of food, clothing, clean water, access to health services, insecurity, and loneliness due to family disintegrations.

“Thinking about my children has left me depressed. I am sick and lonely. If my children were here, they would have boosted my morale despite my current situation,” says Fatimata, adding that loneliness is tormenting her more than her physical illness.

In Bangui, Harun, 62, who has been living in an enclave since December 2013 also says his main challenge is loneliness. We first met him in July 2014. Then, he was optimistic that he would be reunited with his four wives and 25 children in a short while. But, one year later, this is yet to materialize.

“I am not sure but I believe that my family moved to Chad. I have waited to hear from them for a long time but there has not been any information. I am sick, partially blind and lonely,” says Harun, adding that solitude has affected him mentally and aggravated his sickness.

These are the stories of many other IDPs countrywide. According to a Central African Red Cross assessment, there are at least seven enclaves in the country situated in Bangui the capital, Yaloke in the south, Dekoa in the central and Carnot, Bouar, Bokarangoa and Boda, in the western part of the country.

Enabled by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Central African Red Cross continues to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable families affected by the conflict in several sectors including relief, shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation, and psychosocial support. Volunteers have distributed non-food items to IDPs in camps and those in many of the enclaves, with both Fatimata and Harun benefitting.

According to Modessi Waguendo, the disaster management director at the National Society, the needs of the affected families are huge and more support is required. “We have carried out assessments in over ten prefectures in the months of May and June and the needs of the affected people in the enclaves, IDP camps and even host families are enormous,” says Waguendo, adding the main areas of needs are food insecurity, lack of access to safe drinking water, and shelter, since most of the destroyed houses are yet to be rebuilt.

In September 2014, IFRC revised its emergency appeal upwards to 10 million Swiss francs to provide support to 150,000 people affected by the ongoing insecurity. The appeal is currently 17 per cent funded.