Exodus adds to CAR crisis
About a century after she says she was born in CAR, Rame Higa is heading for Chad after her home was torched and two sons killed.
Exodus adds to CAR crisis IRIN
IRIN on Saturday, January 11, 2014
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Almost 20,000 people of Chadian origin have left violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) in recent weeks, and many more are expected to join the exodus, which is straining humanitarian capacity in Chad, a country many of those fleeing have never lived in.

“Those of us who were born here are Central Africans, but we are treated like foreigners. We have never seen Chad but have to go there for our own protection,” said Awa Rabilou, one of thousands of people camped for the last two weeks outside the Chadian embassy in Bangui, waiting for a place on a truck headed for Chad.

“Our houses were burnt. We left with only the clothes we were wearing. They even threw grenades at us. It was people who joined the anti-balaka who did this. If we stay in our neighbourhood, they will kill us,” added Rabilou. 

“Anti-balaka”, which roughly translates as “machete-proof”, is the generic name for militias formed to oppose armed groups that, in March 2013, under the umbrella of the now officially disbanded Seleka alliance, overthrew president Francois Bozize. Lacking any effective command structure, the rebels went on to commit widespread abuses against civilians in many parts of the country. 

“But it wasn’t us who brought [newly installed] President [Michel] Djotodia to power!” said Rabilou. “Not all Muslims are eating at his table. We are also people, not animals. We are Central Africans, and we have rights in this country, but now all Muslims are considered foreigners. So we have decided to go and rest in Chad. Perhaps we will come back if it pleases God.” 

Most of Seleka’s fighters were Muslim, and many were foreigners - mercenaries from Chad and Sudan.

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