Fighting between pro-government forces and rebel groups in the Central African Republic have forced thousands of families to flee their homes. Living in precarious conditions in a schoolyard on the outskirts of the capital, Bangui, displaced villagers tell FRANCE 24 their situation is dire as aid groups warn of dwindling humanitarian supplies.
Under the shade of a tree in a schoolyard on the outskirts of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, around 2,500 displaced villagers gather with a few possessions – plastic buckets, a few mats and cooking pots.
Three weeks ago, the villagers fled heavy fighting between pro-government forces and rebel groups as the security situation in this impoverished African nation deteriorated.
Eric Biro, the chief of the village of Bondokpo, which came under attack, is desperate and does not mince his words. “We live like animals, because we left without our luggage, or even mats to sit on. There are still a lot of deaths there now,” he explains pointing in the direction of his abandoned village. “Many casualties…corpses are all over the forest,” he adds, his voice trailing off in despair.
Fighting erupted again last year just as the Central African Republic was gearing up for the December 27 presidential election, when six of the country’s most powerful armed groups formed an alliance against the government of President Faustin Archange Touadera.
The gold- and diamond-rich country of nearly 5 million people has failed to find stability since a 2013 rebellion ousted former president François Bozize. Although Touadera won the first round of elections, the country’s political opposition has dismissed the victory as a sham. Meanwhile the rebels have been trying to cut the capital off from the rest of the country, attacking villages along the route.