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Date : 10th February, 2019
Time : 1h 05’ 47”
Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (3459)
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3382173749
In January we sent out a 5 year anniversary update to Run the World contacts around the world. Amongst the many kind responses was one from the British Embassy in Kinshasa (which covers the Central African Republic – CAR – on behalf of HM Government). They wished me luck for the rest of the runs – but made a point of advising me against running in the CAR
No great surprise there as the British Foreign Office travel advice is red for the CAR – i.e. they advise against all travel. Other, that is, than a small section of the capital Bangui – where it advises against all but essential travel (orange). Since my policy is not to go anywhere ‘red’, my plan was very much to stay in the ‘orange’ parts of Bangui.
And there’s no doubt the security situation is difficult. Davide, who I was running with, works for the UN and apparently they have 17000 troops in CAR as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
As its name implies, MINUSCA has a number of roles in the CAR – but its “utmost priority” is the protection of civilians. To date, MINUSCA has suffered 80 fatalities while trying to fulfil this mission and keep the peace.
MINUSCA, and their vehicles, were very visible as we ran round Bangui. Something you’ll have to take my word for as its not advisable to take photos of military personnel or equipment. (The photo above isn’t mine.) You’ll also have to take my word for the fact that we ran past the presidential palace and various army and government buildings. Also all on the ‘no photo’ list.
I was, however, clear to take pictures of the cathedral
the tennis club with its brilliant ‘Today, Tomorrow, Tennis..’ motto
the Ubangi river (which is a tributary of the mighty Congo)
and the ‘Bangui la Coquette’* sign which overlooks Bangui in a Hollywood kind of way (above).
We managed to finish the run before sunset, which is Davide’s curfew in terms of being outside, and he was good enough to invite me to join him for dinner that evening. The only problem was that his security protocol precluded him from giving me a lift. And since walking / running / getting a taxi through town after dark all seemed a little foolhardy I had to opt for an evening on my own. Which gave me a taste of the security restrictions that Davide, and many others, have to live with.
The next morning, after a night at a hotel which was the worst value-for-money place I’ve stayed in since Baghdad (why are dangerous places also so expensive?), I set off for the airport. The streets were teeming with UN troops and I subsequently heard from Davide that a number of ex-soldiers had blockaded the main roads in town that day as a protest.
My last sight of Bangui was at the airport as I was about to get on my flight to Douala in Cameroon. The tarmac was covered with UN and World Food Programme aircraft. And a massive Antonov carrier which was in the process of swallowing a helicopter. It gave a real sense of the international commitment to the CAR and since, no-one seemed to mind for once, I took a quick video.
It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Davide for taking time out from his Sunday afternoon to run with me and show me around Bangui. Please join me in London on 20th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!
*Literally, Bangui, the flirtatious woman.
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometres (240,000 sq mi) and had an estimated population of around 4.6 million as of 2016.
Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas, but the country also includes a Sahelo–Sudanian zone in the north and an equatorial forest zone in the south. Two thirds of the country is within the Ubangi River basin (which flows into the Congo), while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari, which flows into Lake Chad.
What is today the Central African Republic has been inhabited for millennia; however, the country’s current borders were established by France, which ruled the country as a colony starting in the late 19th century. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic was ruled by a series of autocratic leaders, including an abortive attempt at a monarchy by the 1990s, calls for democracy led to the first multi-party democratic elections in 1993. Ange-Félix Patassé became president, but was later removed by General François Bozizé in the 2003 coup. The Central African Republic Bush War began in 2004 and, despite a peace treaty in 2007 and another in 2011, fighting broke out between various factions in December 2012, leading to ethnic and religious cleansing of the Muslim minority and massive population displacement in 2013 and 2014.
Despite its significant mineral deposits and other resources, such as uranium reserves, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber, and hydropower as well as significant quantities of arable land, the Central African Republic is among the ten poorest countries in the world, with the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017. As of 2015, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), the country had the lowest level of human development, ranking 188th out of 188 countries. It is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country as well as the worst country in which to be young.The Central African Republic is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the Non-Aligned Movement.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for the CAR – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
|GDP||$1.95 bn||2017||$915 m||2000|
|Population||4.66 m||2017||3.75 m||2000|
|Primary school enrolment*||106%||2016||77%||2001|
|% below poverty line***||NA||NA|
|Life expectancy at birth||52.2 yrs||2016||43.9 yrs||2000|
|GNI per capita||$390||2017||$250||2000|
*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students
** Metric tons per capita
***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)
Greatest Sporting Nation Data
Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Chad performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:
Global Cup – NA
Per Capita Cup – NA
The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.