Chaos is a common sight on the streets of Central African Republic’s (CAR) capital Bangui. Murders, rapes and lootings, even in broad daylight, have been occurring regularly.
Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled the city over the last few months. Among them, many people involved in trade with neighbouring countries such as Cameroon and Chad.
The lack of security around the capital due to the violence – combined with the exodus of many traders – has left Bangui with an escalating food crisis.
Sylvanus Kossingou, a spice vendor at a Bangui market, said: “We live in a war-like situation, so everything is expensive, everything is blocked. Nothing works.”
Across CAR, more than a quarter of the population are in urgent need of food.
The United Nations (UN) has reported that nine out of 10 people are eating just once a day.
Oxfam warns that the food crisis is likely to get “much, much worse”. The aid organisation believes that unless communities are better protected, there could be a complete breakdown in food supply in Bangui and beyond.
African and French peacekeepers have so far been unable to stem the violence.
CAR’s President Catherine Samba Panza told reporters in Bangui: “Within a month, I would like to secure the majority of the country and I aim to stick to my word.”
“At a certain point, everyone will be responsible for their acts, I am warning troublemakers who continue to sow disorder in the country,” Samba Panza continued.
Shortly after the president spoke, however, violence broke out in the crowd outside. A group of soldiers stabbed a man to death, accusing him of being a member of the mainly Muslim militia Seleka.
The UN has called on France to consider sending more troops to CAR to try to help secure the country.