Chadians help refugees fight fear, poverty "as our family"

Source: Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:30 AM
Author: Inna Lazareva
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Fleeing a fresh wave of violence and killings in Central African Republic, tens of thousands of refugees have sought safety across the border in southern Chad.

Once there, living in tarpaulin tents or makeshift shelters of wood and straw, many have set up small businesses in their local host villages, in order to make a living.

  • The majority of Central African Republic refugees in southern Chad are women and children. Many of their husbands were killed in the fighting back home, while others have become separated from their families during the scramble to flee. As part of their new lives in Diba 1 village, the women are doing sewing and embroidery together in a tent, producing pieces they will sell to earn an income.

  • Within three days of arriving from Bouzou, Central African Republic, in late July, Ibrahim Bouba, 44, had set up a tailoring stall in the village of Diba in southern Chad.
    “In Central African Republic, bandits - the ex-Seleka - killed my older brother,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “They were killing people everywhere, threatening, banging on the door at night - I was afraid and I fled here.”
    “Here, there are many people who already have professions, but they lack support... I want to set up classes to train future generations of tailors,” he said.

  • Donatien Dillah (left, white shirt), a refugee from Central African Republic who used to work for British aid group Save the Children, has set up a disabled persons’ association for locals and refugees from Diba and nearby villages.
    “This helps us to look after each other. Because if we just sit here with our arms crossed and wait, given our condition as handicapped (people), it will be very difficult. If we don’t do anything, what will happen to us?”

  • Justin Mianmbaye, a refugee from Central African Republic who lost his leg two years ago in a traffic accident and is now a member of Dillah's association, makes his way through refugee tents in Diba 1 village in southern Chad.

  • With a fresh influx of refugees from Central African Republic over the past year, a busy roadside market has been established, frequented both by Chadians and refugees.

  • Adamoua Abba, 56, arrived in Chad in 2016 after fleeing the war in Bouzou, Central African Republic. Today he runs the main butcher's stall in the village.

  • Leila Hawa Ousmane, 30, arrived in Chad in August. Her husband was killed in the fighting back home in Central African Republic.
    Since arriving, she has set up her own hairdressing and beauty business in Diba 2 village.
    “I do this to live and to be able to feed my child,” she said. “You need courage to survive here... The local Chadian women come to visit us. The relations between us are good. Sometimes they bring us food and things to help us.”

  • Caline Mamat (left, in blue), a refugee from Central African Republic, works as a nurse in a health centre in the village of Diba 1, southern Chad, alongside Majine Odilio, a Chadian midwife.
    “The relations between our people are very good," said Odilio. The war brought them here, so we welcome them like our family.”

    Photos: Thomson Reuters Foundation / Inna Lazareva.

    Read more: FEATURE-In Chad, refugees on aid pittance turn to knitting and hairdressing

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