Diary From the Field: Bangui, Ghost Town

ImageBangui, March 26 2013

It’s unnaturally quiet in Bangui today. The shooting is less frequent and patrols have increased, but there are still few people out on the streets. For some days now, the two main access roads into the city have been blocked by the Antibalaka; just a few hundred meters from our Pediatric Centre, heading towards the outskirts, cars are stopped at the makeshift barricades controlled by armed men. Taxis get within maybe a hundred meters and stop, offloading their passengers before making a U-turn. The market in PK5, the most important of the city, is deserted. We used to go there regularly for our supplies, but we can’t even get close to it now.

Whole neighborhoods seem empty, like ghost towns. The people are again seeking shelter in the refugee camps or with relatives who live outside the city. From the early afternoon on, the roads are deserted; people head back home early to avoid whatever might happen. Today, like in the past few days, there’ve been very few patients at the Pediatric Centre; by 3 o’clock, only 45 children had been examined at our First Aid Post. It’s even difficult to discharge patients, as there are no taxis available and the mothers sometimes have to walk miles to reach their homes. We took in a 4-year old boy today. He’s got a serious anaemia and is in very poor conditions: fear prevented his parents from bringing him to us sooner.

– Ombretta, Coordinator of Emergency’s work in the Central African Republic



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