• France's news in English

French expats in Central Africa voice fears

AFP · 27 Dec 2012, 17:23

Published: 27 Dec 2012 17:23 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Although the estimated 1,200 French nationals in the deeply poor nation do not feel particularly threatened as a community, many fear that attacks will be on the rise as tensions mount following the launch of the rebel offensive earlier this month.

A French woman living in the capital Bangui for 28 years said many people were on edge.

"The people fear pillaging and the manipulation of mobs who are ready to do anything," the businesswoman said on condition of anonymity.

The woman, who was evacuated in 1996 when the country witnessed a slew of army mutinies but stayed put when current President François Bozize took power in a 2003 coup, said the situation was a tinderbox.

"It will not take much for things to explode," she said.

Restaurant owner André Lemonnier said the French did not feel targeted despite an attack on the French embassy by a crowd demanding that the former colonial power do more to stem the rebel advance.

"There have been instances of whites having stones thrown at them," Lemonnier said by telephone. "But I do not think that the French are targets. There is no deep hatred towards the French."

Lemonnier, who has been living in the country for 35 years, however stressed the need for caution.

 "Every time there are protests or regime change, one should remain at home," he said. "And above all one should not fan the flames."

Story continues below…

Another French woman said she was fearful of possible looting as the "poverty has deepened and the population has increased and people will take advantage of the situation to pillage."

A rebel coalition known as Seleka has seized a string of towns in its sweep across the country since its fighters took up arms on December 10.

Their troops have stopped short of the capital, but UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the rebels' "contradictory messages and their continued military offensive seem to indicate that they might be intent on taking Bangui".

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available