ABDEL Testimony IDP Kabo - CAR
Central African Republic

"I feel neither Chadian nor Central African and I do not know where to go"

Abdel Haffis is Muslim. He was born of a Chadian father and a Central African mother 40 years ago in the capital of CAR, Bangui, where he had lived all his life. Now, he waits along with his family in an IDP camp in Kabo – in the north of the country – for the reopening of the border with Chad to escape the violence and flee into a land he does not even know.

Mother forced to leave baby

Abdel was an economics professor in Bangui, where he had eight children with his wife, a Christian. After the violence exploded in CAR in late 2013, he first fled to the sadly famous district of PK-12, which became a real ghetto where hundreds of Muslim families escaped the persecution of anti-Balaka groups. In February, a dozen Chadian army trucks offered a way out to safer areas, but the capacity of the vehicles was insufficient to move the number of people seeking to escape. Abdel witnessed horrible scenes, like a mother forced to leave her two-month-old baby when boarding one of the trucks.

Four passengers killed

Those who stayed had to deal with the violence that exploded in Bangui, and at least 40 people in the neighborhoods PK5 and PK12 were savagely murdered. Finally, in late April, Abdel and his family were able to flee to the northern town of Kabo, an area controlled by the Seleka militias. On the way, the convoy they were travelling in was attacked in Dekoa by rival militiamen who killed four passengers.

Selling clothes to buy food

After travelling for two days, they arrived in Kabo where they stayed in a UN camp for displaced people. Conditions were very difficult and there are shortages of water and essential goods like food and soap. According to Abdel, a serious problem for the inhabitants of the camp is the extreme rise in the price of basic goods because of the closure of the Chadian border. The situation has even forced some of the displaced to sell their clothes in order to be able to buy some food.

Waiting for border to be re-opened

Abdel lives in a small hut made ​​of wood and straw and with a plastic roof. Unlike others, he does not even think of illegally crossing the border so as not to endanger his family. He is just waiting for it to be reopened to run away to a foreign country.