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As war drags on, athletes cry foul


As war drags on, athletes cry foul

They were at the top of their game when fighting shook the Central African Republic. Now living as refugees, six stars wonder if they'll ever compete at that level again.
27 October 2015
William Kopati, 22, won a national championship in the high jump.

Martial was a national champion in karate. William won medals as a high-jumper. Nadine, Teddy, Jason and Herman all played professional football. But athletic prowess is not the only thing they have in common; they are also refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR). After fleeing violence in the capital, Bangui, they found safety and shelter in Mole refugee camp, in the northern reaches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Mole camp is now home to 17,000 people who fled CAR – men, women and children from all walks of life. Like them, the six figures profiled here are coping with the loss of their homes and livelihoods. But as athletes, they are also conscious that the clock is ticking – that, as the months and years roll by, they may never get the chance to resume their promising careers.

At Mole camp – more than two hours by road from the closest Congolese town, Zongo – they try to stay fit, practice their sport and train younger refugees. But they are painfully aware that they may never again have the chance to compete at the national and international level. The lucky few managed to grab a photo album or a medal as they fled. The others have only their memories.