Image 1 of 1
Awaou Absatou (16) lies slumped against the wall of a mosque in the Muslim district PK12. She is suffering from multiple illnesses including malnutrition.In late 2012 after years of instability and conflict, the Seleka, a predominantly Muslim rebel group, fuelled by grievances against the government, overran the country and, In March 2013, ousted President Francois Bozize, who fled the country. The rebel’s leader Michel Djotodia was proclaimed president in August 2013. He disbanded the Seleka in September 2013 but law and order collapsed and ex-Seleka fighters roamed the country committing atrocities against the civilian population. In an attempt to defend their lives and property vigilante groups, calling themselves Anti-Balaka (Anti-Machete), formed to confront the ex-Seleka fighters but soon began to take reprisals against the wider Muslim population and the conflict became increasingly sectarian. By December 2013, with international fears of a genocide being voiced, French led peacekeepers deployed to the country began to act on a UN mandate to disarm the fighters and protect the civilian population. However, they have struggled to contain the situation. Much of the Muslim population, in particular, have been forced into ghettos where they are suffering from food shortages and limited access to healthcare. Often, only a few peacekeepers stand between them and a massacre by vengeful Anti-Balaka militants. UN reports describe ‘thousands’ killed, while over 600,000 people have been internally displaced and a further 200,000 have fled the county.