Central African Republic | 2016-2017
These pictures were taken in an MSF hospital set up in the IDP camp of M'Poko, located in Bangui International Airport. At its peak, 100.000 displaced people lived in the camp and more recently, 28.000 people were still gathered there according to the last profiling reports. Tents were set up just next to the tarmac in an interlacing of sheet metal, old planes, plastic sheeting and whatever scraps people could find.
However, in December 2016, the government decided to clear M'Poko camp, considered as an embarrassing showcase of misery at the door of the country. Therefore, the state launched the "Christmas at home" campaign, which aimed for the people to move back to their previous neighborhoods and clear the site against a small amount of money. The operation ended around a month later and in consequence, the hospital had to close its doors after 3 years of amazing work. Although this evacuation appears to be a sign of national reconciliation and reconstruction, it will be hard to relocate the camp's most vulnerable inhabitants (large families with no financial resources, elderly people, unaccompanied minors, disabled people and those affected by chronic diseases,...) as they don't necessarily have the ressource or capacity to find a safe place to restart a life, once again. Also, many areas of relocation are tainted by a precarious safety, poor infrastructures and destroyed houses still riddled with bullets. And now that the hospital has closed, these people will have to rely on the weak public services in Bangui.
The wonderful staff depicted in this essay has been working relentlessly for the last 3 years to insure access to medical care for the population of the camp, but also for the rest of Bangui's population amounting to two thirds of the patients, as this was one of the rare places providing free healthcare services in the city. This essay is a reminder that our Central African colleagues suffered through the worst of the conflict with their loved ones, some of them even living in the displaced persons camp themselves. No matter what, they provided 440,000 medical consultations, 46,000 interventions in the emergency room, and hospitalised 11,000 people in a temporary structure made of wooden planks and tarpaulin.