Violence in the Central African Republic has displaced more than 200,000 people in less than two months since, over a half of them have fled to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.
While on March 8 of each year the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this country already has more than 100,000 women among these internally and externally displaced persons. They need multifaceted support from men and other sensitive women so as to be able to provide for their families. Refugees told aid workers that they fled in panic after hearing gunfire.
“Most of these refugees live in remote and hard-to-reach areas, near riverbanks, in appalling conditions, homeless and without food. They depend on fishing in the river and on what the villagers can give them,” noted the Legal Representative of the Forum pour la Mémoire Vigilante “FMV”, an NGO under Rwandan law.
Ferdinand Ndayiragije spent six months in the Central African Republic. The representative of the FMV noted the hard life and sacrifice of women, like this old mother internally displaced in Bangui, in the 3rd arrondissement where are more than 6,000 Central Africans coming from all over the country.
The communication service of the FMV has collected his testimony.
What were your reasons for going to the Central African Republic (CAR)?
“I went to CAR for work. When I got there, I told myself that as a humanitarian, responsible for a young humanitarian organization based in Rwanda, I must be attentive and analyze the situation because we have a moral duty to discover and act wherever a humanitarian action is needed”, he said.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), Mr. Ndayiragiye has discovered another world there, a country with a very welcoming population, leaders of associations and groups who express a desire to learn and to partner.
“I had the honor of meeting certain authorities, they are not conceited, haughty, stingy,… they are open to foreigners, they are very welcoming. It’s a shame, there are authorities who are full of admiration for themselves, satisfied, who are self-sufficient in this world,” says Ferdinand Ndayiragije, who has also been a refugee in Rwanda for almost seven years soon.
What do you remember from your stay in the Central African Republic?
“In the Central African Republic, I first saw a huge country, more than 23 times Burundi or Rwanda, a country where there are armed conflicts, for a long time, I saw misery, orphans”, he describes.
And to add: “(…) Following the crimes, many internally displaced people, the returnees. But I also met rebels just before the elections, organized rebels who robbed every small vehicles or motorcycles, and unorganized rebels who robbed us of our money. I almost died, I had death threats, my service vehicle was taken by the rebels, I was coming from Bocaranga to Bangui, with all my team, in a truck carrying goods from Cameroon, ‘I ‘ve seen it all’, remembers this humanitarian human rights activist, especially victims of atrocities.
The FMV representative also has several contacts with the authorities. He remembers doing assessments in Bocaranga, Ngaoundaye and Koui all the sub-prefectures in Ouham-Pende.
“I met and spoke with the deputy prefect of Bocaranga, Koui and Ngaoundaye, the sub-prefect of Bossembele in Ombella-Mpoko, the latter when we took refuge last December in the MINISCA camps of Bangladeshis in Bossembele. I conducted an evaluation in the city of Bangui, 3rd Arrondissement, I accompanied a team from a sister NGO to meet the authorities of the 3rd arrondissement, I established partnership relationships with a few national sister organizations at the FMV , they expressed an urgent Humanitarian need, I am a witness to it ”, he indicates.
What are the living conditions of women?
“Without even making too many evaluations, it’s evident, the observation is that women live in extremely difficult conditions”, adds Mr Ndayiragije.
“In CAR, a husband can have 3, .. 4 wives. The majority of women tell you that they are single with 1,2,3, .. children, they are left to their own , they look after the children. With small businesses and agriculture, they always remain under the dependent status (of their husband, partner or friend). Many women express to have been a sexual object in order to be able to feed their children”, he will say.
“Women have multiple difficulties, especially if they are refugees, displaced persons, returnees or vulnerable immigrants following exile. Even those who remained on their villages, they have economic difficulties, they have small means of subsistence, they have problems accessing educational services for their children, they have problems accessing health services. And with all these problems, they are exposed to sexual violence, … there is therefore a need to support the most vulnerable women, so that they fulfill others their duties as responsible mothers ”, underlines Mr. Ferdinand Ndayiragije.
And what can FMV bring to this country?
The FMV is an NGO that promotes the well-being of a refugee, displaced person and / or immigrant. It has been established in Rwanda in 2015 and started its activities in 2017. It is more active in the southern province of the country where it accompanies Burundian and Congolese refugees, victims of atrocities in their respective countries. And together with its partners, it pays school fees for more than 30 schoolchildren and has not even forgotten female hygiene by distributing sanitary napkins to a hundred vulnerable women.
In CAR, the FMV reassures that it can export its experience in Rwanda. “We intervene in peace education, peaceful conflict resolution, non-violent communication and leadership. The community leaders of the displaced persons in the CAR, the administrators at the base, the belligerents… everyone needs more these notions”, he explains.
Even more, insists this humanitarian, “Resilience and psychosocial support for refugees and displaced persons take precedence over our area of intervention”. This sub-regional NGO is in partnership with several organizations working in these fields such as NGOs and associations of survivors of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, EAGIS-Trust, the Coalition of Sites of Conscience, …
“We have an accurate experience, that of Rwanda. The Rwandan population has gone from nothing since 1994, but now this small African country has become giant in all areas in Africa. It shines like a candle in the shadows. The resilience of the survivors of the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi is the stick of command in this country. We are at this school, more than a university, and we want to export this experience to CAR,” he reassures.
In this country, CAR, for many, the river is also the only source of water and; malaria, respiratory infections and diarrhea have become common among refugees, UNHCR worries. Food, shelter, medicine, refugees urgently need everything, including identity documents.
The FMV calls on other international NGOs to take an interest in the CAR to “save thousands of needy”.