David’s Story, Central African Republic
It is strange how one can pass from covering the turmoil in their country to being a victim of the violence. As the General Director of the national TV station in the Central African Republic, I closely followed the events that led to the culmination of the conflict in December 2013. But nothing prepared me for the day when I was also forced to flee.
The omens were already bad since that morning. There was shooting right in front of my house in Bangui and I rushed inside, to firmly shut the windows and blinds. When the gunfire subsided, I managed to take a peek outside. 30 meters from my door, the Seleka had killed three young boys from the neighborhood. They were friends of my children; they used to play together. I was sure that if I stayed home, they would come to kill us, too. This is how I took the decision to go to the Don Bosco site.
There were about twenty of us: Me, my wife, our eight children and other friends and relatives who had sought refuge at my place. The conditions on the site were harsh, especially for the children. During the dry season, the temperature is low at night, and inside the hut where they were staying, some of them caught a cold, diarrhea or malaria. The food was scarce until we registered with the organizations giving assistance, until then we had to cover all our needs with our own limited means.
At the beginning I couldn’t go to work at all. Nevertheless, some of the station’s journalists were living in areas that were less affected. It is they who managed to go to “Télé Centrafrique” and put old programs on repeat. A lot of the station’s material had already been pillaged and, in the end, it was this general fear of looting that drove us back home in February 2014.
We were among the fortunate. A lot of the people in Bangui are still waiting to return and put their lives back together. What should be done for them is clear: the humanitarian organizations need to assist them with material aid, while the government, together with the international forces, must secure their neighborhoods, so that they can return.