Central African Republic: Ten years of civil war

"The Events," an MSF production about the toll of violence on families

CAR, 10 years of violence/portfolio

Central African Republic 2023 © Adrienne Surprenant

Ten years after the start of the third civil war in the Central African Republic, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) partnered with photographer Adrienne Surprenant to speak with Central African families who have faced the consequences of these years of violence. The photographic and audio documentary The Events highlights 15 first-hand accounts from Bangui and Carnot detailing the impact of the conflict on families, communities, homes, and collective memory.

This is the story of, among others, Joseph, whose son was murdered on Christmas Eve; of pregnant Tatiana, who had to flee her home when she was at full term; of Louise, who underwent an amputation following a gunshot wound; and of Louison, traumatized by the death of a man he tried to save. Below is the video prologue for the series: 

In March 2013, rebel groups formed in the north of the country. They united in a coalition called the Seleka and took power in Bangui. Looting and atrocities soon led to deadly reprisals by self-defense committees made up of villagers and former soldiers called the Anti-balaka militias.

In Bangui and in the west of the country, Muslims, ethnic Fulani, or people who joined the routed Seleka fighters, were targeted: they were hemmed in, hunted down, killed, or forced into exile. UN peacekeeping forces and French troops were also deployed. This third civil war filled the daily lives of thousands of families with fear and the constant struggle for survival.

The Events: Central African Republic, ten years of violence

A photographic and audio documentary focusing on Central African families.

Watch the full series here

In such circumstances, people had to ask themselves: where can we shelter our family? How can we adapt and continue to be a family in the middle of a war? And how will we rebuild our lives?

Over the past ten years, acts of violence and political alliances contributed to ongoing upheaval. The military counter-offensive by the Central African government, supported by Russian allies, has allowed the state to regain control of the country's main cities and roads. The armed groups have been driven out to the periphery and weakened, but are still capable of inflicting harm, and both sides are regularly accused of atrocities.

Today, 3,000 MSF staff are working in the country, and most of them are Central African. They provide numerous medical services such as pediatric care, trauma surgery, and HIV/AIDS care. Every year, MSF teams carry out 900,000 consultations in partnership with the health authorities.