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Central African Republic
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The charity began its work in Central African Republic (CAR) in 1992 with the opening of the first SOS Children's Village in Bangui. SOS Children's Villages runs a HIV prevention programme through its school and the Medical and Social centres in Bangui, and helps nearly 6,000 orphaned children. … more about our charity work in Central African Republic

SOS Village acts as a refuge amid CAR violence

Displaced children at our Village in Bangui (Photo: Till Muellenmeister)
Displaced children at our Village in Bangui (Photo: Till Muellenmeister)

As violence and chaos continue to afflict the Central African Republic (CAR), the SOS Children’s Village at Bangui is providing a place of refuge to more than 3,000 displaced people. Soldiers from the Central African Multinational Force (FOMAC) are helping to protect the Village.

Despite the presence of French, African Union and FOMAC peacekeeping troops, security in the CAR has continued to deteriorate over the last month. The UN has this week warned that the country is heading towards a humanitarian disaster. Nearly one million people have been displaced and around two thirds of the capital’s population are living in temporary camps. At least 16 children are known to have been killed and many more have been injured. UNICEF estimates that more than 450,000 children are in need of protection and assistance.

SOS Village is a refuge for displaced families

The photojournalist Till Muellenmeister has recently returned from a trip to the capital, Bangui, where he was able to visit our Village and speak to the SOS country director. We are happy to report that all SOS children and employees at Bangui and also in our second village at Bouar near the Cameroon border, are safe and unharmed.

SOS Medical Centre in Bangui 67803However, the situation in Bangui remains very volatile, with random militia attacks and killings happening on a daily basis across the city. Fearing for their lives, more than 3,000 people have taken refuge in and around the buildings of the SOS Village in Bangui. Classes have therefore had to be suspended at the SOS Nursery and School, because rooms there are providing shelter to displaced families. However, the SOS Medical Centre remains operational and SOS medical staff are continuing to treat many people in collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been providing drugs and supplies. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also been supplying food and the most recent delivery on 6 January has provided enough food for the next two weeks.

This week, the WFP reported that it has finally managed to deliver rations to the estimated 100,000 people encamped at the airport outside Bangui. People living at the huge camp there had not received any supplies for three weeks because of insecurity on the roads. However, living conditions remain dire and agencies are extremely concerned about the health of families. Already, there has been an outbreak of measles. MSF has therefore begun vaccinating 68,000 children living at the airport and other refugee camps in Bangui in order to prevent an epidemic.

Keeping life as normal as possible

Speaking about his recent trip to the CAR, Till Muellenmeister said “daytime brings a [degree] of normality amidst the chaos in that women venture out to buy food or to return to their homes, which are too dangerous to sleep in at night”. However, he reported that shops, banks, restaurants and other businesses were only offering minimal services and prices in the capital had rocketed.

SOS mothers and their co-workers are trying to ensure the children in Bangui can lead as normal a daily life as possible. But Till said that unfortunately it’s impossible to shield the youngsters completely from the stressful circumstances because “the children still see what is happening outside the Village”. Reflecting on his experiences in the CAR, Till concluded “I have no idea how this could end.”

Boy in Bangui CAR 65807
We are providing food and shelter to children separated from their families in the violence

Delivering emergency relief

SOS Children has worked in the CAR for more than two decades, and the most vulnerable people need our local knowledge and expertise at this time of crisis. That's why we are delivering emergency relief to the most vulnerable people in this devastated country:

  • We are providing shelter to children who have been separated from their families in the chaos.
  • We are delivering food and nourishment to the youngest and most vulnerable, as well as expectant and new mothers.
  • Our Villages in Bangui and Bouar are located near the border, where displaced people are most in need of help.
  • We are supporting people forced from their homes in these locations and across the border in neighbouring Chad and Cameroon.

Please help. By sponsoring a child in the CAR, you can help make sure a child in need gets the best possible care and the chance to thrive:

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A monthly donation to our work in the CAR will help those most in need:

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