One of Central African Republic’s most celebrated musicians is lending his voice to one of the continent’s most pressing humanitarian crisis.
According to the United Nations, Central African Republic is the third largest humanitarian crisis in the world after Yemen and Syria.
Ozaguin, whose real name is Jean Paul Mbele, visited the Elevages camp for internally displaced (IDPs) in Central Africa’s city Bambari, along with senior spokesman for the WFP, Herve Verhoosel.
The musician was in Geneva last month to call for help and more funding to help up to 3 million people identified as needing humanitarian assistance, and just under 2 million said to be “severely food insecure” across the country.
“We can’t talk about returning to our village, it’s gone now. But what we want is peace to return so we can get on with our lives” said,
27-year old trader Mariam Adamou, who fled her village of Grimari after it was attacked by anti-Balaka Christian fighters five years previously.
Central African Republic has been in conflict since 2013, when mainly Muslim rebels ousted the former president, prompting reprisals from mostly Christian militias.
Thousands of people have died because of the unrest in the diamond and gold-producing country, and one in five of its 4.5 million population have fled their homes.
Ozagin has used his music to promote peace and reconciliation in CAR giving free concerts last year under the banner ‘Poupou ti siri’, which means ‘Wind of Peace’ in the local Sango language.
“I feel a lot of joy looking at how people are coming here to get their coupons and to get the food. It really gives me a lot of pleasure, honestly, to see the World Food Programme doing this work, and when I came I saw the women and our brothers are happy. Really it is work that is well done,” he said after singing some of his hit songs with displaced people.
The UN said the situation in CAR had deteriorated in the last year and a half, with humanitarian needs rising forcing the UN food organisation to revise its funding need. The WFP is calling for an extra 35 million USD by the end of the year.
“There are less than 5 million inhabitants (in CAR) of which 1.8 million are suffering from food insecurity. the international community really needs to continue and increase its aid and that is why the World Food Programme is today calling for 35 million dollars to double its aid to this country. And we hope that by coming to camps like these that the international community may see on the ground what the situation is like. We are unable to help a third of the refugees,” said Verhoosel.
While the signing of the Peace Agreement between the government and 14 armed groups six months ago has improved the stability of certain areas, the humanitarian situation remains dire, added Verhoosel.
Leaders of the armed groups met with the government in the CAR capital Bangui last Saturday (August 24) to assess the success or failure of the Accord.
A report by the UN Security Council in June noted dozens of violations had been reported weekly since the Khartoum Agreement was signed.
CAR’s Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada on Saturday called on all armed groups to abide by the security arrangements to which they committed.