Fieldset
Dispatch from the Field: Bria Receives IDPs

"These guys are the ones who take boys and turn them into killing machines.  We already have 100s of ex-child soldiers in Bria trying to reintegrate back into the community and schools."

The LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) has been quite active in the eastern and southeastern parts of the Central African Republic, attacking villages and towns that are especially rich in diamond mines.  These guys are the ones who take boys and turn them into killing machines.  We already have 100s of ex-child soldiers in Bria trying to reintegrate back into the community and schools.  In the recent attacks, the LRA abducted several dozens of children from surrounding villages as close as 20 miles from Bria, in addition to attacking and terrorizing the general population.  Thus, we have had an influx of IDPs (internally displaced persons) into Bria.  Oxfam counted just over 1,200 people at the end of January and MSF has been providing the families with NFIs (non-food items) as well as doing some vaccinations against TB, polio, measles, tetanus, hepatitis B, chicken pox and more.

One group of IDPs is at a church in the heart of one of the neighborhoods, virtually inaccessible.  When we were driving to the site, I couldn’t believe that a) the driver knew how to get there and b) that we were actually driving on roads.  It seemed like we kept hitting a dead end but the driver knew we weren’t. 

Upon arrival, our team got organized to set up the distribution. Everyone in this group had fled the same village with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  The items we supplied were greatly appreciated. 

Nurse Supervisor Armel Zengbe managed the distribution of items for the IDPs.

The distribution of needed supplies was well organized using a ticketing system.

A mother gathered her supplies, which included a mat, a bucket, cookware, silverware, blankets and small personal hygiene items.

The IDPs arrived in Bria with nothing.  This boy carried his younger brothers, both of who had only rags to wear.

The following week, I photographed our team vaccinating children.  All the IDPs in Bria were at this distribution site (a different church in town) where UNICEF was supplying them with supplies on a larger scale.

On February 4, UNICEF, in partnership with a local charity, organized a distribution of supplies to all the IDPs.  It was heavily guarded by MUNISCA soldiers and vehicles.

Women waited their turn to receive a kit offered by UNICEF.

A mother and child at our vaccination site watched the UNICEF distribution process.

A mother held out her infant's leg while he received a shot.

Blaise, a vaccinator, prepared a shot.

Small children often care for their even younger siblings.  These young boys and the babies they carried both got vaccinated.

Nurse Supervisor Armel Zengbe filled out vaccination cards for all the children.

Children and parents wait their turn to be vaccinated.

MUNISCA soldiers patrol the donation site where kits are set up for their recipients. 

As of today, the 9th of February, there are still new people coming into Bria.  Hopefully, we will see an end to the violence soon.