AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - “churches and mosques must be rid of armed infiltrators”: say the Catholic Archbishop and the Imam of Bangui

Monday, 24 February 2014

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) – It is necessary to disarm “infiltrators” in churches and mosques in order to counteract gangs of militia and looters presently terrorising the country. This appeal has been launched by Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Oumar Kobine Layama, respectively Catholic Archbishop and Imam of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, according to information given to Fides News Agency. “May all the brothers carrying weapons hand over their arms. The military must disarm everyone, in churches and in mosques. Too many Central Africans carry weapons, Muslims and Christians. Arms take no sides” said Archbishop Nzapalainga.
“Armed men have moved into places of worship, even into mosques” the Imam agreed, calling for support for disarmament operations on the part of international forces sent to the Central African Republic to help local authorities stem the violence.
After the toppling from power of the Seleka Rebel group, the so-called Anti Balaka militia (composed of various groups, including bandits and criminals) has unleashed a man-hunt for Muslims, accused of being accomplices of the Seleka.
Looting has reduced the country to the limit . During a meeting with a councillor at the Embassy to the Order of Malta, Fr. Elkana Ndawatchi, representative of the archdiocese of Bangui, cited a report issued last May 2013 by the World Health Organization, which found that out of 117 health centres visited in the areas most affected by armed conflict, 49 hospitals and health centres had been destroyed and 80% of the medical staff had been forced to evacuate the central areas of country.
“In Bangui – the priest added - of 24 healthcare existing centres only 17 are able to function and 9 of these are Catholic medical centres. While out of 4 hospitals at the secondary an tertiary levels only 3 still offer some assistance.” The representative of the Order of Malta gave the local Church 5 million CFA Francs to support affected Catholic health centres and said that more aid in the form of medical drugs is presently held at up at the port of Douala (Cameroon) because roads between the two countries are insecure. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 24/2/2014)