AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - "The Central African Republic is likely to become a home for Al Qaeda," says a missionary

Monday, 13 May 2013

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "The Central African Republic risks becoming a home for Al Qaeda." This was the warning launched to Fides by Fr. Anastasio Roggero, a Carmelite missionary who returned on May 2 from the Central African Republic. "I have been working in Central Africa since 1975 and I can say I know it very well." Since the rebel alliance Seleka drove President François Bozizé out and its leader Michel Djotodia declared himself President, the Central African Republic has been living in chaos. "My fear, explains Fr. Anastasio - stems from the fact that the Central African Republic is a Country as big as France with only 5 million inhabitants. Now that the little state administration has completely been destroyed, who can control it? We are in the heart of Africa, and the danger here that a center of terrorism is set up is real, in my humble opinion."
A danger also fueled by the fact that the men of Seleka have a hostile attitude towards Christians, a fact that seems to have no precedent in the history of the Country, as confirmed by Fr. Anastasio. "I lived the army mutinies in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and the rebellions of 2001 and 2002-2003, but what is happening now exceeds all the other crises that Central Africa has experienced so far ," says the missionary.
Fr. Anastasio gives as an example on the treatment received by the missionaries "the story by Fr. Valentino, a Capuchin missionary who was on the plane with me to Italy." "His mission to Gofo in the north on the border with Chad, was completely destroyed. The rebels arrived shooting widly and Fr. Valentino and his confreres had to hide under the bed for protection. Then thanks to the intervention of what was left of the police they were accompanied on a journey of 800 km until Bangui." Fr. Anastasio adds, however, that "Fr. Valentine, who is 78 years old of which 52 spent in Africa, did not lost his nerve and finished his story saying, "we will resurrect."
Fr. Anastasio continues: "While in Bangui now something is being done to improve safety, so much so that the high school" Charles De Gaulle " re-opened, in other areas of the Country, the situation remains extremely precarious. The rebels, who are mostly Sudanese and Chadians, ask the poor people for money. Then they steal the poor things of the population, even the few clothes they are wearing. The Central African Republic is their spoils of war that ends up directly in Chad. More than fighters they are mercenaries paid by the looting of goods taken from the people living in Central Africa ".
Fr. Anastasio, before the amount of destruction committed by Seleka (among other things the municipal and parochial archives have been systematically destroyed) comments: "It seems everything has been destroyed in order to establish Islam."
"The men of Seleka have destroyed all state institutions: schools, public and health care buildings. How can we think to restart the state administration in these conditions?" Says the missionary. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/05/2013)