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mia farrow

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November 26, 2010

Birao attacked again


we cannot feed our babies

Birao was a ghost town when I got there in 2006. Just days earlier the town had been attacked. After a fierce battle in which most of the town was destroyed, French. Chadian and Central African Republic military forces drove the invaders back to where they came from - Sudan.
The terrified villagers had fled into the bush but some emerged to tell us what had happened to them. In 50-100 or more vehicles,
armed men had swarmed the town. Women and girls were held captive and they were raped for three days . Nursing mothers told me "men drank my milk, then they burned my breasts. We cannot feed our babies."
This remote town is a long way from the nations capital of Bangui. Unicef supply trucks had left Bangui more than a week earlier but were still making their way along a rutted, mud track through one of the worlds most dense forests. They were still several days distance from Birao- it was clear that many of the babies could not survive.

For Biraos 14,000 traumatized residents, there would be little respite. Since 2006 the town has been attacked four times, most recently last Wednesday by a CAR rebel group ( CPJP ). What would a local rebel group want from this desolate spot? One has to wonder who is funding them. Look at the map. Birao is right on the Sudan border. There is an airstrip. It is a strategic location for anyone planning air attacks on South Sudan. Has Khartoum been behind these attempts to seize Birao, effectively keeping its own fingerprints off the attacks?

More often than not, I simply could not raise my camera to my eye, but
I did take these few photos of some of the survivors in Birao. Their stories are written in their faces. They never leave me.

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