Al Jazeera Blogs


Africa

Children pay price of CAR conflict

Children playing in Bangui monastery is a rare sight of joy as hundreds of thousands have been displaced by fighting.
Last modified: 9 Mar 2014 22:00
17-year-old Azar's mother never came back after saying she was going to the market [Alexander Ohrn]

The sound of children laughing and singing rings out at the monastery in Bangui. They form human chains that snake in circles. Each one comprises of a different age group.

They are having fun - a rare feat in the midst of a conflict that has pitted neighbour against neighbour. Save the Children tells me there are three sessions a day. Each time over 200 children come to sing, play and talk about what's on their mind and often what pains them.

One such child is Jordi. I ask him what he likes about the centre and silent tears trickle down his face.

"I go to forget," he whispers. He watched Seleka fighters burst into his home and shoot his parents in December. Neighbours brought the newly orphaned 13-year-old from Kabo to the capital, 370km away. He stayed for a while in an area called PK12 on the outskirts of the city and then, when buses of people were transferred to the monastery he was swept along with the crowds, and eventually found his way to the children's centre. He's in foster care now as the ICRC tries to find his relatives.

In the big camp of 60,000 people near the airport, 17-month-old Azar looks completely lost. His mother said she was going to the market in December and she never came back. She could have been killed, or she may have abandoned him. A stranger cares for him now. He has a glazed look in his eye and hasn't made a sound since.

They are just two children among thousands who suffer needlessly in a conflict that is not of their making, paying the price for some peoples' greed for power and need to exert dominance over others in the most brutal fashion.