I first heard of the misery enveloping the Central African Republic last year when CAR was chosen by numerous organizations as one of the world’s most underreported and neglected stories. While Darfur and the Congo seemed to generate ample media attention, the situation in CAR was unknown to all but a few. Located in the center of Africa and sharing borders with Chad, Sudan, the D.R. Congo and Cameroon, CAR is nearly the size of Texas with a population just over 4 million people. Since gaining independence from France in 1960 the poverty-stricken nation has experienced a succession of coups and attempted coups. In the last decade alone it has experienced almost constant rebellion, leading to a state of anarchy in most of the north of the country. CAR is one of the world’s poorest nations with an average life expectancy of only 39 years. With no electricity outside of the capital and virtually no paved roads, it is a land abandoned.
Getty Images photographer Spencer Platt says photographers in Beirut have been scrambling to the scene of explosions whenever they hear them, but doing so isn’t easy because Hezbollah is keeping photographers at arms length. “They’re very suspicious of our motives,” he says, explaining that they suspect there are Israeli spies among the Western journalists. Moreover, Platt says, Israeli aircraft are targeting cars in some places, so if you go on certain roads, “There’s a high probability that you’ll be attacked.”