Loading a truck in Bangui to take humanitarian supplies to Ndele, 2020 | © Adrienne Surprenant / HI
HI staff member in Central African Republic, Jimmy Müller offers a glimpse into life on the logistics team during conflict.
Jimmy Müller is not your average delivery guy. He delivers lifesaving goods in a life-threatening environment. While it may be said that “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat” can stop the postal service, for Jimmy and his colleagues it’s more like “Neither heat, nor armed conflict, nor land mines.”
Jimmy Müller Baguimala Kobé is a logistics officer for HI in the Central African Republic (CAR), based in Bangui, where millions of people and numerous NGOs depend on him and his team to deliver essential supplies amid tense and dangerous internal conflict.
“We transport goods for humanitarian aid throughout the country,” says Jimmy Müller. “This includes medicine, kits of essential items, and coal to fuel generators in hospitals without electricity. It is extremely important to have this delivery system in place because the people need supplies, and so many organizations and NGOs providing aid here are not able to transport these items on their own. They come to us, and we make sure it gets to the beneficiaries for them. I love the work I do because it does such a huge service to the population.”
Already considered one of the poorest countries in the world, a recent blockade at the border has forced the CAR to depend on surrounding countries for goods, causing prices to skyrocket beyond the means of the people. Over 2 million people are experiencing dangerous levels of food insecurity and must rely heavily on humanitarian aid to meet their needs.
“Safety is a major concern,” Jimmy explains. “Some of the internal roads are finally starting to open back up, but they are dangerous, which can block trucks and slow down road deliveries. There have been several serious incidents recently where vehicles were set on fire. Mines are also a problem, causing both injuries and deaths.”
Transportation in this context is already difficult due to fragmented infrastructure and security threats, but movement is even more constrained by the sanitary restrictions following the Covid-19 pandemic. This further isolates the people disproportionately affected by crisis such as children, older people, women and people with disabilities.
“The population is experiencing a terrible crisis and urgently needs humanitarian intervention, and the work we’re doing makes that possible. We are asking our supporters to continue helping us bring this aid to every part of the country. These goods are essential in order for help to continue, and for the benefit of the people.”
While Jimmy recognizes the immense value in his work, he ultimately hopes for an end to the conflict and a return to a time where these efforts are no longer necessary.
“I wish with all my heart that things would go back to normal. I don’t want to relive the situation we’ve been in,” he says. “For now, people are depending on us.”