Finding safety down the Ubungi River

Twenty-year-old Marie Claire Immindu fled her village when armed men came looking for her father.

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© UK for UNHCR/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the world’s poorest countries and has long been troubled by unrest. For many, like Marie Claire and her family from Kwango, CAR, the journey to safety has been long and treacherous. Refugees from CAR escape in canoes or walk for weeks with little food or water to sustain them.

Six years ago, Marie Claire fled from her village after she and her family were tipped off that armed men were looking to kill her father. Immediately after receiving the news, Marie Claire, her two children and other members of her family left absolutely everything behind.

Leaving their village at 5pm, the family walked for an hour to the canoe they would have to take to safety. The family paid 5000frs CFA – approximately £7 – to travel by canoe to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many CAR refugees make this dangerous journey along the Ubungi River that forms the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over 60,000 refugees from CAR travel this narrow stretch of river to the DRC.

Women waiting

Refugee women wait for appointments at a UNHCR health centre in Inke Camp. Photo: © UNHCR/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

Clinic Facilities

Healthcare facilities in a UNHCR clinic in Inke Camp. Photo: © UNHCR/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

Inke Camp

Inke Refugee camp in Nord-Ubangi, as seen from an aerial drone. Photo: © UNHCR/Hugh Kinsella Cunningham

Now, still unable to return home, Marie Claire has been safely living in the UNHCR Inke camp for six years and receiving care from Dr Nellie Sangwa’s team: 

“This is my second baby. He is just weeks old. I am so grateful that I had a safe delivery. I was going for check-ups regularly. The nurses always counselled me. They advised me to breastfeed the baby for six months before giving him any other food.  There were times when I was ill, but they always took care of me at the health centre free of charge.”

UNHCR is working across the DRC with doctors to help provide the right equipment to help refugee mothers like Marie Claire.

Your support today could give refugee mothers like Marie Claire and babies the urgent care they need and deserve.

Learn more about the neonatal care crisis in the DRC.

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