Scores of Chadian have taken refuge at their country’s embassy in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), having become the newest targets of the "anti-balaka" Christian militias.
The problem for the Chadians is exacerbated by local suspicion that Chad encouraged the Seleka rebels who seized power in the CAR last March.
The crisis that has torn the CAR apart has ravaged the lives of civilians with Chadian roots. The anti-balakas loot, burn down houses and kill.
"My husband was killed in the violence," said Hajar Mahadi, a young mother with three children. "The anti-balakas took him by surprise, they killed him and his brother with machetes."
It is a common story in Bangui, where religious violence spills blood daily.
According to the ambassador for Chad, 57 Chadians have been killed since the start of the conflict and many others have disappeared.
"The fact that groups of Chadian mercenaries took part in the Seleka rebellion has nothing to do with the Chadian state, it has nothing to do with the behaviour of Chadians who have lived here for 40 or 50 years," said Mahmat Charif Dawsa, the ambassador.
He also defended the troops Chad has contributed to the African peace keeping mission, or MISCA. "The armed forces we have placed under the command of MISCA are units that are part of the Chadian army and have nothing to do with the Seleka.”
The Chadian soldiers have paid a high price for their role in MISCA. In December alone, they lost ten men in clashes with armed militias. They have recently started going on patrol with French troops.
The Chadians are not welcome in the Christian districts. In the Muslim part of the city, however, things change. The French troops are hissed. The Chadians are cheered.
Date created : 2014-01-07