A rare sense of calm in volatile CAR - Al Jazeera English

A rare sense of calm in volatile CAR

A semblance of security is encouraging those who fled violence to return.

Alexander Ohrn | | Humanitarian crises, War & Conflict, Asia, Central African Republic

Bangui, Central African Republic - Months of religiously motivated violence have shredded the social fabric of the Central African Republic and forced hundreds of thousands people to take to the road - swelling refugee camps in the capital city of Bangui, outlying provinces, and in neighbouring countries. 

With an increased sense of security, some have started to return, but many remain wary. Violence can flare up at anytime.

International forces patrol the streets of the capital and engage with the residents. The once-deserted streets are now lined with food vendors. Yet there are still noticeable scars in this uneasy calm.  

PK5, a once-mixed neighbourhood, has turned into a Muslim enclave over the past few months. Muslim residents are still scared to leave the sanctuary of their neighbourhood. While Christian women sit on the side of the road selling food, Muslim worshippers come in numbers to attend the Eid prayers. Smiles are exchanged - something unthinkable months ago.

Just a few hundred metres away is a 'no-man's-land'. Parts of the neighbourhood remain emptied of its residents. Scores of destroyed houses are a reminder of the sheer brutality that tore the city apart.

Nearly 40,000 Christians still live on the airport grounds under derelict planes, in hangars, and under a sea of tents by the runway. Many have lost family members and homes. For now, they have nowhere else to go. Children play, smile, and laugh.

For now, a sense of normalcy prevails and life continues, but the slightest spark could ignite another fire. 

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