Almost every patient in this children’s wing in Bangui is emaciated. They are malnourished… some severely.
Many people don’t get to see this – the devastating impact of war in the Central African Republic.
The hospital ward is small and full of patients. A 17-year-old mother coughs as she tries to keep her baby warm with a thin hospital sheet.
She lost her husband during the fighting. You can tell she is traumatised just by looking at her.
She spends most of her time staring outside the door. I wonder what she is thinking, what she saw during the fighting and how she is now a widow at so young an age.
There are babies in here who are desperately malnourished. They are so thin you can see their bones.
Another medical facility doesn’t even have incubators. The premature babies in here can’t regulate their body temperatures. The staff are tired but they do everything they can to make the babies comfortable, wrapping them in blankets.
Aid workers say the crisis in the CAR isn’t getting enough international attention or funding. Some call it donor fatigue, some say the media is focusing on other crises.
An old woman gets up and shows me her granddaughter sleeping on the bed. She is frighteningly thin and she is wearing an oxygen mask.
The old woman says to me, “I pray god lets her live. I know I have nothing to give her to eat, and she will probably have a difficult life in Bangui, but I want her to live. At least that could mean there is hope for us and my country.”
I don’t know how to respond and I look down at the floor nervously.