Families Hunt Cats For Survival As COVID-19 Lockdown Bites In Republic of Congo

Poor families in the Republic of Congo have begun to feel the pains of the lockdown imposed by the government to check the spread of COVID-19 across the country. And some have resorted to hunting stray cats in the streets to quench hunger, resident said

But in attempt to provide the needs of their families some youths have run into trouble with the law enforcement agents and are arrested for violating the order on lockdown, residents told HumanAngle in Brazzaville.

“We no longer have anything to eat, nor the means to raise money with which to buy what to eat. I live in one room with my four children and charity organisations which used to come to our assistance with daily rations have stopped operating so we have nothing to eat.

“If this goes on for much longer, I am afraid we will all die of starvation here at home.

“Instead of dying without food, I decided to send two of my children to see if they could get us some cats from the streets for us to kill and eat,” a father who gave his name as Malula Motombo said .

This strange new phenomenon has taken over several quarters in Brazzaville but mostly in Diata quarters, where several youths for the past few days can be seen chasing cats in the streets.

“There has been nothing to eat in our house for several days now so I had to join friends who have been catching cats and killing for daily bread,” one frail but excited youngster said.

Meanwhile, the Special COVID-19 Fund set up by the government has so far raised 2.3 billion FCFA (1.1 million dollars) for managing the pandemic.

The government set up the Fund to solicit for financial assistance to be used in the prevention and control of the pandemic.

The Presidency donated 150 million FCFA (300,000 dollars) followed by other public institutions, including the Senate which contributed 75 million FCFA (150,000 dollars) and the National Assembly which contributed 50 million FCFA (100,000 dollars)

Other donors include cabinet members who together donated 137 million FCFA (274,000 dollars) as well as economic operators and politicians.

Opposition parties which were hitherto accused of only blaming government for inadequacies in the fight against the coronavirus also contributed a total of 10 million FCFA (20,000 dollars).

The leader of the opposition, Pascal Tsaty-Mabiala, handed the opposition contribution (two cheques) on Thursday, April 23, to Prime Minister Clement Mouamba who has directed that all money raised be transferred to the Ministry of Finance which with the Ministry of Health, be in-charge of its disbursement.

The Fund was established by the government with an initial sum of 1.5 billion FCFA (three million dollars) to finance the prevention and control of the pandemic by the Ministry of Health. It would also be used in maintaining public forces charged with ensuring order, HumanAngle learnt.

In another development, the government has ordered the production of one million face masks for the use of those directly involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and other members of the community who may not be able to buy for themselves.

The government gave specifications for the quality of masks and is expected to provide the machines and equipment that would be used in the production of the masks.

It said the masks would measure 19cm by 8cm stitched in cotton material with elastic of the same colour as the cotton material. It added that the masks would be produced in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

The government of President Denis Sassou Ngouesso who has headed his country for a total of 33 years, (first serving from 1979 to 1992 and later from 1997 to date) has not been quite forthcoming with COVID-19 figures.

The last time the government released figures was on April 15, at which time coronavirus cases stood at 117, with 11 recovered and five deaths.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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