CAR refugees face hardship and uncertainty both at home and abroad

Of the 300,000 refugees who have fled to Cameroon from the Central African Republic, most arrived with painful memories of their lives in the CAR. But displacement has added to their trauma, say those living in the Gado-Badgere refugee camp. Rife sexual violence and poor living conditions have left many weighing up whether they should return home.

Ndoti-Djo Ismail, one refugee in Cameroon, said his four young daughters were raped by armed men in the CAR.

"When my children finally joined me here, they were frail," Ismail told RFI. "It was sad, very sad."

Following decades of instability, conflict in the CAR exploded once again in 2013 following the overthrow of president Francois Bozize by Muslim Seleka rebels.

Since then, the government has struggled to exercise authority outside of Bangui, the capital, with retaliatory violence between rebels and anti-Balaka, a Christian youth militia.

The fighting has forced millions to flee and take refuge in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"I was raped and my daughter was raped," says Rahamadou Bidem, who fled to Cameroon seven years ago after witnessing her husband's murder.

"How do you ever forget that?" she said.

Offering a lifeline

Gado-Badgere village chief Martin Azia Sodea has welcomed thousands of refugees.

The retired gendarmerie officer, experienced in UN peacekeeping missions, has provided an area of 60 square kilometres with UNHCR-supplied tents.

Likewise, Bidem plans to stay.

Read more on RFI English

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