“We need a solution to this situation”

Younes, 43, is sheltering with his wife and baby at a mosque in the Central African Republic’s capital city.

Before the conflict, Younes and his family enjoyed a stable family life in Bossembélé, 175km from Bangui. He ran a small business and reared cattle to earn a living to support his two wives, four children and elderly parents.

But when the violence sweeping the country reached Bossembélé, he lost his parents, his wife, and three of his children. He escaped, with the surviving members of his family, to Bangui – where he grapples with the trauma of war.

We met Younes and his family as we distributed food parcels to people seeking safety inside Central Mosque, Bangui.

“After the attack, we left everything behind,” said his wife, Fatima. “We don’t have any resources to survive. I am very worried about our future, as we can’t stay here forever.”

At the mosque, the family shares three rooms – previously used for teaching – with eight other families. Conditions are dark, damp and crowded – and the emergency toilets serving the whole site are just metres away from where they sleep.

Deteriorating and dangerous conditions

Younes and the surviving members of his family have lost everything.

Younes and the surviving members of his family have lost everything.

Food is distributed on a monthly basis, and there is running water. However, families here have no access to schools, hospitals, workplaces or anywhere beyond this restricted part of the city. It is too dangerous to venture further.

“Staying in the mosque is not a solution,” added Younes. “We are looking to move out of the country to somewhere safe and where our son has opportunities for education and a good life.”

Other families at this site for displaced people are living in large communal tents, crowded together with many other families. The humanitarian needs are great here and across the country, but emergency programmes are severely underfunded – and much more aid is needed.

“We are very thankful for what we have received but unfortunately it is not enough. We need a solution to this situation,” said Younes.

At least one million people in CAR have fled their homes since the conflict began. Many, like Younes and his family, are sheltering in ever-swelling camps and sites, where the conditions continue to deteriorate.

An estimated 2.5 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance, in a deepening crisis recently now designated by the UN as a level three emergency – the highest possible designation.

Please support our work to help families suffering in CAR, and vulnerable people that have fled to nearby countries: donate to our Appeal for the People of CAR today.