We have nowhere and nothing to go back to

تم النشر: 30 سبتمبر 2015 8:38 CET

By Anicet Feidangai, volunteer – Central African Red Cross, and Nelly Muluka, IFRC

Gloria, 13, and her family live at the M’Poko international airport internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Bangui. They are among the hundreds of thousands of families displaced due to armed violence in the Central African Republic since December 2013.

Due to its proximity to the runway, this camp has been earmarked for closure by the government. Families have been registered and given a package of humanitarian assistance to assist them as they vacate the camp, and are expected to return to their districts of origin.

Gloria is grateful for the support her family has received, however, she says her family has nowhere to go, having lost their house and all their livelihoods when they were displaced.

“Before the violence, my ten siblings and I were in school. My father was working at an institution and supporting the family, but now things are different,” says Gloria. “We lost everything to the violence. My father lost his job and we all dropped out of school. At times we eat and at other times we go hungry for days. We are all grateful for the package that we have received, but we have nowhere to go and are still lacking many basic essentials to restart our lives.”

Prince, 11, whose family also lives at the M’Poko IDP camp echoes Gloria’s words.

“We left the camp and went back home to the third district of Bangui, however, we found that our house was destroyed and everything taken. We have come back to the camp for my parents to ponder our next move. We have suffered a lot here in the camp, going without meals or treatment when we fall sick. I dropped out of school and I do not know if I will ever go back,” says Prince who hopes to become a policeman when he grows up.

Ndaranga, 38, is physically challenged and a father of two. He would like to move out of the camp, but like the others, wonders where he will go.  

“Although I am a professional electrician, I have lost my business premises and all my working tools to the crisis. I have been living with my two children in the camp, begging for food from other IDPs. At the moment I have nowhere to go, but if someone can help me restart my business with security assured, I am willing to work for a living other than this idea of begging,” says Ndaranga.

It is a story repeated throughout the camp, and includes Emilienne, 44, a volunteer with the Central African Red Cross. Despite her circumstances, Emilienne continues to actively take part in Red Cross volunteer activities, when security allows. She is among many Red Cross personnel who have also been displaced as a result of the conflict.

Initially, 4,319 families were registered at the camp to receive humanitarian support to assist them as they move. However, a recent survey revealed that at least 2,210 households are still in the camp, 850 of whom have already received support but do not want to leave, citing total loss of homes and livelihoods. The remaining households were not initially in the camp during the registration period. According to a needs assessment carried out by the Red Cross in June, at least 95 per cent of houses and other infrastructure damaged in the crisis are yet to be reconstructed.