In these past few weeks, the level of safety in the Central African Republic has continued to worsen. The northern part of the country is out of control: despite the presence of the French troops and MISCA, the Anti-balaka and Seleka go on fighting. Skirmishes are rare in Bangui now, but the crime level is extremely high. It’s hard to predict what could happen.
A convoy of 1,200 Muslims set off last week from PK12, 12 km from the center of Bangui, heading north. Despite the tensions, there was no fighting when they departed and the international forces will escort them for the whole journey. Immediately after they left, people began ransacking the mosque where the refugees had been living for many weeks.
This was one of the largest Muslim communities left in the city after the skirmishes of recent months: the Muslims were one of the main targets for the Anti-balaka militia, particularly after the resignation of president Djotodia last February.
While the rest of the country is out of control, Bangui has been a little more stable over the last few weeks, even though there’s no let-up at all in some neighborhoods. Fighting continues in the Muslim settlements, and the roads are extremely dangerous in the evening due to the presence of militiamen, drifters and run-of-the-mill criminals. There are too many weapons to be had for the asking, like in every war.
At the Complexe Pédiatrique (the public hospital where our emergency surgery team has been working for over a year now), the patients are mostly children with old wounds never treated, or treated badly: especially outside Bangui, access to medical care – and free care in particular – is always a major problem.
The rainy season has arrived early, so there’s been an increase in the number of patients with malaria and problems of the airways. At our Paediatric Centre, there’s no end in sight to the emergency situation: the ward, and the tent with its 8 additional beds (put up in the worst days of the war) are always full to overflowing. The malaria situation is critical: every day we’re taking in children in such serious conditions that it’s impossible to treat them.
Jules, a 1-year old boy, was brought to our Paediatric Centre by another organisation that works just outside Bangui. He was suffering from a serious form of malaria and needed urgent transfusions, but there was nothing we could do: he was already dead when he reached us.