National Geographic : 2017 May
Burning heart of africa 71 Then he betrayed them, and that’s how the Seleka came together,” the guide said. seleKa fighters achieved their goal of dis- lodging Bozizé but had little idea how to govern. They controlled Bangui for less than a year be- fore the United Nations sent in a peacekeeping force. The Seleka withdrew to Muslim-dominated regions, and the alliance soon fractured. The disparate rebel groups split their territory into fiefdoms, each controlled by a former Seleka leader who has tapped into local resources to raise money to pay fighters and buy weapons. During the past year they’ve begun attacking each other, prompting 70,000 people to flee their homes. Photographer Marcus Bleasdale and I want- ed to explore how these resources, which hold such promise for the nation, have become the lifeblood for the forces that keep it divided. We decided to visit Bambari, a town in the center Students begin the day at a Bangui school that was closed for two years due to the fighting. Muslim-led rebels destroyed schools across the country, affecting some 425,000 children. Teachers were already in short supply before the fighting—about one per 89 students—and many who fled the conflict haven’t returned.