Powerful, Heartbreaking Pictures of Central Africa Rep. refugees

Growing numbers of refugees from the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic have been arriving in the neighbouring country of Cameroon.

Many of those fleeing enter Cameroon in a dreadful physical condition after having spent weeks or months hiding in the bush, struggling to find food and water and sleeping out in the open, unable to return to their homes.

The most vulnerable of these refugees are children, especially those under the age of five. According to UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, an estimated 40 percent of children enter Cameroon suffering from malnutrition – and for some, the journey proves to be too much. Together with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), UNHCR has set up a nutrition centre in the eastern Cameroonian town of Batouri.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Raihanatou is three years old but weighs 6.7kgs after spending a month in the bush with her mother and three siblings. During the journey the family ate what they could find, mostly leaves and roots. The little girl was taken to the nutrition centre at Batouri Hospital suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting. She is now recovering.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Two mothers nurse their malnourished children in the hospital’s nutrition centre.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Nurses at the nutrition centre weigh a severely malnourished child before feeding time. The infant suffered from lack of food during the long journey through the bush.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Ousseini and Hassan, 11-month-old twins, rest in the arms of their mother and grandmother at the nutrition centre supported by UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders. The family walked through the bush for three months before arriving in the border town of Gbiti in Cameroon. During their journey, they ate boiled leaves with occasional bits of beef. The twins are being treated for malnutrition.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Refugee mothers wait with their children for milk distribution in Batouri Hospital’s crowded nutrition centre. Milk is distributed every four hours.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Hourriatou mourns the death of her grandson, 18-month-old Djaratou, from malnutrition. Djaratou’s father and twin brother were killed in the Central African Republic. The boys’ mother was injured but is recovering.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

An exhausted mother and her baby wait for the milk distribution at the nutrition centre. The centre currently treats about 100 refugee children for severe malnutrition, but more are on the way and the capacity is being increased.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

A refugee mother in the nutrition centre feeds her baby with a syringe because he refuses to take his milk from a cup.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Even though there are only 12 beds at the hospital’s nutrition centre, more than 100 refugee children from the Central African Republic are being treated for severe malnutrition there. The mothers also want to stay near their children.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

A UNHCR staff member talks to two refugees from Central African Republic as they wait with their children at the nutrition centre for the first milk distribution of the day.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

A mother and child rest at the nutrition centre.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

To deal with the overcrowding, UNHCR has set up tents near Batouri Hospital where mothers can stay with their children who are being treated for severe malnutrition. More refugees arrive every day.

/UNHCR/Frederic Noy

Feeding time at the Batouri Hospital nutrition centre in eastern Cameroon.  /UNHCR/Frederic Noy

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