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2013-08-21

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - The Archbishop of Bangui on a visit to the displaced persons in Bozoum. The story of a missionary

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "Mgr. Nzapalainga came to bring the solidarity of Christians in Bangui, and to be close to over 2,400 displaced people who fled their villages because of the killings perpetrated by the rebel Seleka", refers a note sent to Fides Agency by Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, a Carmelite missionary who has been working in the Central African Republic since 1992, on the visit in Bozoum by the Archbishop of Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalainga. Mgr. Nzapalainga is also President of Caritas and President of the local Episcopal Conference.
The visit began on August 17 with a meeting with the delegates of the 8 villages from which the refugees fled. "Their representatives presented the situation and expressed their needs. First of all peace and security. And then medicine, food, shelter for sleeping etc. ..., " said Fr. Aurelio.
"We also met one of the few officials still in town. But he has no power, because everything is in the hands of the rebels, who do what they want, and even administer justice", said the missionary. "We met the Consul of Chad (many rebels come from that Country) and then the leader of the rebels. I explained to him why we came ... and told him that those villages should be left alone, and that they must free the prisoners", says the missionary.
"In the afternoon we went to visit some of the displaced families. Almost everyone is at relatives’ or friends’ houses. In one of these houses 38 people arrived".
Sunday Mass was presided by the Bishop and the church was packed.
"The Archbishop of Bangui helped us to believe and hope", continued Fr. Aurelio.
Mgr. Nzapalainga accompanied by Fr. Aurelio then visited some villages, bringing a word of comfort to the people in fear. "In Kemo people are present, but are terrified. Some of them had been tied up and beaten", recalls Fr Aurelio.
We crossed the river to meet the rebels. Their leader, slouched in a chair, only spoke Arabic. His deputy acted as interpreter. Let us say that we came to visit the villages affected by their violence and killings, but the leader says that it is not true, that there was nothing. I make him repeat it twice.
Leaving their "base", across the street, we see the villagers. We met them and encouraged them".
"Finally, we let the Bishop, with his mission, continue until Bossangoa. We went back to Bozoum, with a bit of hope, but also with much sadness. What we saw is a very small part of the pain and suffering that the Country has been going through for 5 months now", concludes Fr. Aurelio. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/08/2013)

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