Women fled war in the Central African Republic.
Where guns and diamonds meet, the violence followed.
The border town of Garoua Boulaï not only is a center for illicit trade in blood diamonds that feeds the conflict in the Central African Republic, it is the main entry point for refugees. More than 243,000 people have fled violent insurgency in CAR for safety in Cameroon.
But in the sprawling centers organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the women have found little refuge. The Gado-Badzéré camp lies just outside the town and houses 24,000 people.
Food is scarce, money even more so and drugs and violence all too common. Women there recounted sexual attacks inside flimsy homes of plastic sheeting, and outside when they scavenge for firewood in the bush.
Women recounted sexual attacks inside flimsy homes of plastic sheeting, and outside when they scavenge for firewood in the bush.
"A man jumped on me and wrestled me to the floor until I lost my strength, and then he raped me," said one 30-year-old victim, who asked that her name not be revealed. “I was very badly hurt.” The assault left her screaming in pain whenever she must urinate, she said.
In some camp households, girls are prostituted to provide income for their families, said Eliane Moussa, another refugee.
Refugees have formed a camp security committee to address the drug abuse and sexual violence that is ravaging the camps. One man was caught with a backpack filled with opiates he was peddling, said Abdou Issa Rahim, the committee’s vice president.
"We caught a refugee in the process of raping a disabled daughter," he said.
Text and photos by Christian Locka
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