Sam Mednick, West Africa correspondent, in a rare account from an under-reported country, told the story of an active militia fighter working with Russia’s Wagner mercenaries bringing insights into the challenges of demobilizing in a nation still in conflict.

This story took persistence on multiple fronts. It took months to set up with the United Nations who flew Mednick to Bouar city to speak with their demobilized fighters and see their program. Mednick also discreetly met and spoke with diplomats, human rights experts, local advocates and people who had researched these militias, in the country and abroad, to verify details.

The story was shared on social media and researchers, demobilization and conflict experts and people who follow Central African Republic, reached out to the writer with positive feedback, some saying it questioned the use of international aid.