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In Pictures
CAR refugees' 'Most Important Things'
Central African refugees have been crossing into DR Congo carrying only their most-treasured items.
Last updated: 28 Feb 2014 21:01
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Libenge, DR Congo - More than 60,000 residents of the Central African Republic have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo since April 2013, when Seleka rebels ousted the government in CAR's capital, Bangui.

The mass displacement has been happening as rival militia - largely divided between Christian and Muslim groups - attack villages believed to be affiliated with the other. Whole villages have been razed to the ground, as men armed mostly with machetes, but also with firearms, spread a deadly cycle of brutal violence in ongoing tit-for-tat revenge massacres.

Some 30,000 of those displaced live in four refugee camps set up by the UN High Commission for Refugees in DRC. For the majority, there was no time to pack before escaping. They fled extreme violence and chaos and arrived exhausted and traumatised in the DRC. They could take only the most essential and lightest belongings. Those belongings are featured in this photo essay by Brian Sokol, and include a sandal that helped an old woman, a pair of crutches used by a man to reach safety and a boy's photo of his slain father. Another boy named the family members who escaped to safety with him as his most important possession - and many others would feel the same. 

The photos here were taken at Batanga Transit Centre, Boyabo Refugee Camp and Libenge village in August 2013. Many of those in these photographs have since been moved to safer locations, far from the river which divides CAR from DRC.

 


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Jean Gerembo recalls Wednesday March 27, 2013, vividly. His wife and two children were staying with his mother-in-law, when Seleka forces entered his village of Batalimo. The Seleka heard from a neighbour that Jean's mother had saved some money, and at 11:45 that night there came a knock at the door. Jean hid beneath his mother's bed and told her to remain silent, and not to answer it. A few moments later, the door was kicked in. One of the soldiers walked over to the bed and slit the old woman's throat. Terrified, Jean stayed under the bed as they looted the home. The next morning, he found eight young people who were, as he said, "brave enough to to help me to bury my mother." After the burial, Jean found his family, gathered a few essentials, and together they fled across the Oubangi River in his small fishing boat. The most important thing that Jean was able to bring with him from CAR was his fishing net. He says that the net allows him to live, and to earn. "Some of the fish I sell, some we eat. I use the money to buy clothes and to pay the local people for plantains, cassava and peanuts," he said. "Many people have suffered. Mine is just one story."


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Veronique Gonoko is around 85, and has lived almost her entire life in the riverside village of Zinga in CAR. In this portrait, she holds aloft the one remaining sandal that accompanied her from CAR. A fellow refugee gave her a mismatched one to replace it. She says that it is difficult to look across the river and see the village where she lived her entire life, but can no longer safely return. She fled her home when armed men "arrived in cars and trucks, shooting and killing along the road".


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Jean-Baptiste Maka is originally from the village of Moungoumba, but was working as a nurse in CAR's capital of Bangui at the time it fell to Seleka forces. After fleeing to DR Congo, he found refuge with a family in Libenge. In a twist of fate, many of the Congolese families currently sheltering Central African refugees once lived with the same individuals when their roles were reversed. The most important thing that Jean-Baptiste was able to bring with him is his CAR national ID card: "It proves that I'm here seeking refuge - and gives me the right to register with the UN so that I will be protected."


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Fideline Poga Za holds one of her school notebooks, after fleeing with her family to DRC, having seen a businessman executed in front of them. "I couldn't take my school bag, my shoes, or the coloured ribbons for my hair," said the 13-year-old. "But I did bring my notebooks and my pen... We have suffered so much. I want to study so that I can become someone."


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Emmaus Faybuna holds a photo of his father, who was murdered on his doorstep. After the killing, Emmaus packed a few belongings into a bag and fled into the night. He wandered for around a month before making it to DRC. "This photo is important to me because I love my father. I love him very much," said the 17-year-old. "And before, in life, he loved me too."


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Benjamin Kombo fled his village of Mongo, with his wife and four children, crossing the perilous Oubangi River which separates CAR from DRC in a canoe. He now supports himself by mending clothes for fellow refugees and locals in Batanga with his sewing machine. "It is my life, it is my blood," he said. "I use it to be able to buy food for my family."


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Marcelin Longue's crutches were made for him by his woodworking elder brother, who was killed by Seleka fighters. The armed men also took Marcelin's wheelchair, before he fled with his pregnant wife and two young children. The third child was born six days after reaching DRC. Marcelin's crutches "are like my legs. They allow me to walk. If I didn't have them, I could have died."


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Bonheur Mandjakete (second from right) watched his friend, Princi, murdered by Seleka fighters in Moungoumba. The nine-year-old said that his relatives had lost all their possessions, but, he added, "the most important thing is that I have my life and my family".


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Lucie Kaledoka cannot straighten one of her legs. Her husband and her son carried the 38-year-old to safety after Seleka fighters attacked. Her most important possession, she says, is her bible, which "guides me in my life".


/Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Antoine Wamale guesses himself to be somewhere around 80 years old. "I heard that people were being murdered. I heard that the Seleka don't like old men, and that they kill them when they find them," said the widower. "It is not for nothing that I chose to bring the cup," he said. "For me, I would have been ashamed to ask every day, just to take a drink of water. Having my own cup gave me some degree of independence. People become tired of being asked for things all the time, and eventually they say 'no'."


Last year, photographer Brian Sokol also documented the most-cherished possessions of refugees fleeing violence in Mali in an essay published on Al Jazeera Online. You can check it out here: Mali refugees' 'Most Important Things'


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images:
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captions:
Jean Gerembo recalls Wednesday March 27, 2013, vividly. His wife and two children were staying with his mother-in-law, when Seleka forces entered his village of Batalimo. The Seleka heard from a neighbour that Jean\(***)s mother had saved some money, and at 11:45 that night there came a knock at the door. Jean hid beneath his mother\(***)s bed and told her to remain silent, and not to answer it. A few moments later, the door was kicked in. One of the soldiers walked over to the bed and slit the old woman\(***)s throat. Terrified, Jean stayed under the bed as they looted the home. The next morning, he found eight young people who were, as he said, "brave enough to to help me to bury my mother." After the burial, Jean found his family, gathered a few essentials, and together they fled across the Oubangi River in his small fishing boat. The most important thing that Jean was able to bring with him from CAR was his fishing net. He says that the net allows him to live, and to earn. "Some of the fish I sell, some we eat. I use the money to buy clothes and to pay the local people for plantains, cassava and peanuts," he said. "Many people have suffered. Mine is just one story." ;*;Veronique Gonoko is around 85, and has lived almost her entire life in the riverside village of Zinga in CAR. In this portrait, she holds aloft the one remaining sandal that accompanied her from CAR. A fellow refugee gave her a mismatched one to replace it. She says that it is difficult to look across the river and see the village where she lived her entire life, but can no longer safely return. She fled her home when armed men "arrived in cars and trucks, shooting and killing along the road".;*;Jean-Baptiste Maka is originally from the village of Moungoumba, but was working as a nurse in CAR\(***)s capital of Bangui at the time it fell to Seleka forces. After fleeing to DR Congo, he found refuge with a family in Libenge. In a twist of fate, many of the Congolese families currently sheltering Central African refugees once lived with the same individuals when their roles were reversed. The most important thing that Jean-Baptiste was able to bring with him is his CAR national ID card: "It proves that I\(***)m here seeking refuge - and gives me the right to register with the UN so that I will be protected.";*;Fideline Poga Za holds one of her school notebooks, after fleeing with her family to DRC, having seen a businessman executed in front of them. "I couldn\(***)t take my school bag, my shoes, or the coloured ribbons for my hair," said the 13-year-old. "But I did bring my notebooks and my pen... We have suffered so much. I want to study so that I can become someone.";*;Emmaus Faybuna holds a photo of his father, who was murdered on his doorstep. After the killing, Emmaus packed a few belongings into a bag and fled into the night. He wandered for around a month before making it to DRC. "This photo is important to me because I love my father. I love him very much," said the 17-year-old. "And before, in life, he loved me too." ;*;Benjamin Kombo fled his village of Mongo, with his wife and four children, crossing the perilous Oubangi River which separates CAR from DRC in a canoe. He now supports himself by mending clothes for fellow refugees and locals in Batanga with his sewing machine. "It is my life, it is my blood," he said. "I use it to be able to buy food for my family.";*;Marcelin Longue\(***)s crutches were made for him by his woodworking elder brother, who was killed by Seleka fighters. The armed men also took Marcelin\(***)s wheelchair, before he fled with his pregnant wife and two young children. The third child was born six days after reaching DRC. Marcelin\(***)s crutches "are like my legs. They allow me to walk. If I didn\(***)t have them, I could have died.";*;Bonheur Mandjakete (second from right) watched his friend, Princi, murdered by Seleka fighters in Moungoumba. The nine-year-old said that his relatives had lost all their possessions, but, he added, "the most important thing is that I have my life and my family".;*;Lucie Kaledoka cannot straighten one of her legs. Her husband and her son carried the 38-year-old to safety after Seleka fighters attacked. Her most important possession, she says, is her bible, which "guides me in my life".;*;Antoine Wamale guesses himself to be somewhere around 80 years old. "I heard that people were being murdered. I heard that the Seleka don\(***)t like old men, and that they kill them when they find them," said the widower. "It is not for nothing that I chose to bring the cup," he said. "For me, I would have been ashamed to ask every day, just to take a drink of water. Having my own cup gave me some degree of independence. People become tired of being asked for things all the time, and eventually they say \(***)no\(***)." Daylife ID:
8028a63c12f21a4f22e32e4886d17a9d
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR;*;Brian Sokol/UNHCR
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
CAR - Feb 28 - UN photoshttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photosen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Fri, 28 Feb 2014 20:33:55 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/16d4c26457e48723b43ded30ae639be1

Jean Gerembo recalls Wednesday March 27, 2013, vividly. His wife and two children were staying with his mother-in-law, when Seleka forces entered his village of Batalimo. The Seleka heard from a neighbour that Jean's mother had saved some money, and at 11:45 that night there came a knock at the door. Jean hid beneath his mother's bed and told her to remain silent, and not to answer it. A few moments later, the door was kicked in. One of the soldiers walked over to the bed and slit the old woman's throat. Terrified, Jean stayed under the bed as they looted the home. The next morning, he found eight young people who were, as he said, "brave enough to to help me to bury my mother." After the burial, Jean found his family, gathered a few essentials, and together they fled across the Oubangi River in his small fishing boat. The most important thing that Jean was able to bring with him from CAR was his fishing net. He says that the net allows him to live, and to earn. "Some of the fish I sell, some we eat. I use the money to buy clothes and to pay the local people for plantains, cassava and peanuts," he said. "Many people have suffered. Mine is just one story."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/16d4c26457e48723b43ded30ae639be1Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Jean Gerembo recalls Wednesday March 27, 2013, vividly. His wife and two children were staying with his mother-in-law, when Seleka forces entered his village of Batalimo. The Seleka heard from a neighbour that Jean's mother had saved some money, and at 11:45 that night there came a knock at the door. Jean hid beneath his mother's bed and told her to remain silent, and not to answer it. A few moments later, the door was kicked in. One of the soldiers walked over to the bed and slit the old woman's throat. Terrified, Jean stayed under the bed as they looted the home. The next morning, he found eight young people who were, as he said, "brave enough to to help me to bury my mother." After the burial, Jean found his family, gathered a few essentials, and together they fled across the Oubangi River in his small fishing boat. The most important thing that Jean was able to bring with him from CAR was his fishing net. He says that the net allows him to live, and to earn. "Some of the fish I sell, some we eat. I use the money to buy clothes and to pay the local people for plantains, cassava and peanuts," he said. "Many people have suffered. Mine is just one story."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/b26ce44465361685cc83a9dd706cac83

Veronique Gonoko is around 85, and has lived almost her entire life in the riverside village of Zinga in CAR. In this portrait, she holds aloft the one remaining sandal that accompanied her from CAR. A fellow refugee gave her a mismatched one to replace it. She says that it is difficult to look across the river and see the village where she lived her entire life, but can no longer safely return. She fled her home when armed men "arrived in cars and trucks, shooting and killing along the road".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/b26ce44465361685cc83a9dd706cac83Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Veronique Gonoko is around 85, and has lived almost her entire life in the riverside village of Zinga in CAR. In this portrait, she holds aloft the one remaining sandal that accompanied her from CAR. A fellow refugee gave her a mismatched one to replace it. She says that it is difficult to look across the river and see the village where she lived her entire life, but can no longer safely return. She fled her home when armed men "arrived in cars and trucks, shooting and killing along the road".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/dadf7241c2df0d5967728839985073a0

Jean-Baptiste Maka is originally from the village of Moungoumba, but was working as a nurse in CAR's capital of Bangui at the time it fell to Seleka forces. After fleeing to DR Congo, he found refuge with a family in Libenge. In a twist of fate, many of the Congolese families currently sheltering Central African refugees once lived with the same individuals when their roles were reversed. The most important thing that Jean-Baptiste was able to bring with him is his CAR national ID card: "It proves that I'm here seeking refuge - and gives me the right to register with the UN so that I will be protected."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/dadf7241c2df0d5967728839985073a0Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Jean-Baptiste Maka is originally from the village of Moungoumba, but was working as a nurse in CAR's capital of Bangui at the time it fell to Seleka forces. After fleeing to DR Congo, he found refuge with a family in Libenge. In a twist of fate, many of the Congolese families currently sheltering Central African refugees once lived with the same individuals when their roles were reversed. The most important thing that Jean-Baptiste was able to bring with him is his CAR national ID card: "It proves that I'm here seeking refuge - and gives me the right to register with the UN so that I will be protected."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/198d7c7712431b816cc432217831d609

Fideline Poga Za holds one of her school notebooks, after fleeing with her family to DRC, having seen a businessman executed in front of them. "I couldn't take my school bag, my shoes, or the coloured ribbons for my hair," said the 13-year-old. "But I did bring my notebooks and my pen... We have suffered so much. I want to study so that I can become someone."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/198d7c7712431b816cc432217831d609Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Fideline Poga Za holds one of her school notebooks, after fleeing with her family to DRC, having seen a businessman executed in front of them. "I couldn't take my school bag, my shoes, or the coloured ribbons for my hair," said the 13-year-old. "But I did bring my notebooks and my pen... We have suffered so much. I want to study so that I can become someone."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/df7793fdacf0c7c359a9d7e89178ec23

Emmaus Faybuna holds a photo of his father, who was murdered on his doorstep. After the killing, Emmaus packed a few belongings into a bag and fled into the night. He wandered for around a month before making it to DRC. "This photo is important to me because I love my father. I love him very much," said the 17-year-old. "And before, in life, he loved me too."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/df7793fdacf0c7c359a9d7e89178ec23Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Emmaus Faybuna holds a photo of his father, who was murdered on his doorstep. After the killing, Emmaus packed a few belongings into a bag and fled into the night. He wandered for around a month before making it to DRC. "This photo is important to me because I love my father. I love him very much," said the 17-year-old. "And before, in life, he loved me too."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/2872f6551b2c3be0ef67bac186007eb1

Benjamin Kombo fled his village of Mongo, with his wife and four children, crossing the perilous Oubangi River which separates CAR from DRC in a canoe. He now supports himself by mending clothes for fellow refugees and locals in Batanga with his sewing machine. "It is my life, it is my blood," he said. "I use it to be able to buy food for my family."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/2872f6551b2c3be0ef67bac186007eb1Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Benjamin Kombo fled his village of Mongo, with his wife and four children, crossing the perilous Oubangi River which separates CAR from DRC in a canoe. He now supports himself by mending clothes for fellow refugees and locals in Batanga with his sewing machine. "It is my life, it is my blood," he said. "I use it to be able to buy food for my family."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/721fb41346fe6d38d41bf9820d3dabb4

Marcelin Longue's crutches were made for him by his woodworking elder brother, who was killed by Seleka fighters. The armed men also took Marcelin's wheelchair, before he fled with his pregnant wife and two young children. The third child was born six days after reaching DRC. Marcelin's crutches "are like my legs. They allow me to walk. If I didn't have them, I could have died."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/721fb41346fe6d38d41bf9820d3dabb4Brian Sokol/UNHCR

Marcelin Longue's crutches were made for him by his woodworking elder brother, who was killed by Seleka fighters. The armed men also took Marcelin's wheelchair, before he fled with his pregnant wife and two young children. The third child was born six days after reaching DRC. Marcelin's crutches "are like my legs. They allow me to walk. If I didn't have them, I could have died."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/f1c66fb6aba81dfaf0cdf20bc244232f

Bonheur Mandjakete (second from right) watched his friend, Princi, murdered by Seleka fighters in Moungoumba. The nine-year-old said that his relatives had lost all their possessions, but, he added, "the most important thing is that I have my life and my family".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/f1c66fb6aba81dfaf0cdf20bc244232fBrian Sokol/UNHCR

Bonheur Mandjakete (second from right) watched his friend, Princi, murdered by Seleka fighters in Moungoumba. The nine-year-old said that his relatives had lost all their possessions, but, he added, "the most important thing is that I have my life and my family".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/770c5aaa291ad8ed6d145915872b4d4b

Lucie Kaledoka cannot straighten one of her legs. Her husband and her son carried the 38-year-old to safety after Seleka fighters attacked. Her most important possession, she says, is her bible, which "guides me in my life".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/770c5aaa291ad8ed6d145915872b4d4bBrian Sokol/UNHCR

Lucie Kaledoka cannot straighten one of her legs. Her husband and her son carried the 38-year-old to safety after Seleka fighters attacked. Her most important possession, she says, is her bible, which "guides me in my life".

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/334f042cf00ca990f90324dcc846863b

Antoine Wamale guesses himself to be somewhere around 80 years old. "I heard that people were being murdered. I heard that the Seleka don't like old men, and that they kill them when they find them," said the widower. "It is not for nothing that I chose to bring the cup," he said. "For me, I would have been ashamed to ask every day, just to take a drink of water. Having my own cup gave me some degree of independence. People become tired of being asked for things all the time, and eventually they say 'no'."

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/CAR_-_Feb_28_-_UN_photos/slideshow/no-caption/334f042cf00ca990f90324dcc846863bBrian Sokol/UNHCR

Antoine Wamale guesses himself to be somewhere around 80 years old. "I heard that people were being murdered. I heard that the Seleka don't like old men, and that they kill them when they find them," said the widower. "It is not for nothing that I chose to bring the cup," he said. "For me, I would have been ashamed to ask every day, just to take a drink of water. Having my own cup gave me some degree of independence. People become tired of being asked for things all the time, and eventually they say 'no'."



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