Blog post

Welcome Back to Bangui

As I am landing in Bangui, I can't believe the amount of people crowded near the landing strip. "Big changes since July, I don't recall any people there before," says my colleague Michael Dirksen, deployed for the second time this year to Central African Republic to support the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) activities. The improvised shelters look like a small town right next to the airport currently controlled by the French Peacekeeping forces.

The WFP security officer is picking us up at the airport and on my way to the Hotel, I notice very few people in the street. It is already 5:15 pm and the curfew imposed by the government is at 6pm. We need to hurry up to make sure our colleagues go back home safely and on time. The streets are empty and the traffic fluid, no taxi or private cars. Only the UN vehicles and some soldiers are seen in Bangui at this time of the day.

The intensification of violence over the past weeks in Bangui and other major towns culminated on 05 December with coordinated attacks of anti-Balaka elements in Bangui and Bossango against the ex-Seleka. Reports covering Bangui only estimate that 213,760 people have been displaced during recent clashes and more than 1,000 people killed. The situation was already alarming earlier this year when before the Coup, there were reports of violence and looting in UN sub-offices such as in N'dele, Kvaga Bandoro and Bambari.

With the urgency of the situation, CAR was declared Humanitarian System-Wide Emergency on 11 December 2013. Humanitarian capacity is increasing in country to support the affected population.

Michael and I have been called to support the local inter-agency ICT team in ensuring critical ICT services are in place to support humanitarian organizations responding to the crisis.

Our ICT Colleague Komi Amedjonekou is giving me a call to make sure we arrived safely: "Bienvenue a Bangui la Coquette!"

By Caroline Teyssier, World Food Programme (WFP), Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC)