Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "What is the hope for our Country at the beginning of this year?" ask the Bishops of the Central African Republic in a message published at the end of their Plenary Assembly, Sunday, January 14th.
A legitimate question given the dramatic situation of the Country that emerged during the course of the meeting. The Bishops highlighted a dramatic picture of the conditions of security, while recognizing "efforts to consolidate peace at a national level with the beginning of the reestablishment of the State Authority, through the appointment of Prefects and Under Prefects".
"Unfortunately - affirms the message sent to Agenzia Fides – with regards to the social plan, the painful events that occurred in recent times in some prefectures such as Haut-Mbomou, Mbomou, Haute-Kotto, Basse-Kotto, Ouaka, Nana-Gribizi, Ouham, Ouham -Pendé and Nana-Mambéré, lead us to believe that our Country continues to sink into the abyss". "Armed groups always create anarchy and impose their laws on exhausted civilians who no longer know where their help will come from. In our dioceses we are daily witnesses of this sad reality and deplore the fact that our Country is always under the grip of arrogance and intrusion of armed militias who do not want the war to stop".
"The armed gangs are still engaged in raids and massacres, rape and racket of civilian populations. Villages are looted and burned. Inhabitants are tortured and shamelessly killed", the Bishops denounce.
A mission of UN Blue Helmets, MINUSCA, has been present in Central Africa for years to help local authorities restore safety conditions. But the Bishops complain "the slowness and inaction of some MINUSCA contingents in maintaining peace", to the point that "the local populations ardently desire the deployment of the Central African security forces".
Insecurity and the sense of abandonment on behalf of the State translates into the lack of health and educational facilities. Young people are those who pay a high price to the point that the Bishops say that "the future of the children of our Country is uncertain and very gloomy". "Girls and boys are exposed to all forms of violence, including sexual abuse of all sorts and forced enlistment in armed groups". Even the Church has suffered attacks and persecutions. These include "the cowardly and criminal aggression of Father Blaise Bissialo in the parish of Christ of Tokoyo in Bangassou (see Fides 8/1/2018) and the attempts of intimidation of pastoral agents".
The Episcopal Conference calls on the international community to "continue to accompany and support the peace process in Central Africa" and to the NGO "to move from the emergence phase to the recovery and development phase", while it launches an urgent appeal to armed groups so that "In the name of God they lay down their weapons and put an end to the crimes and sufferings of our compatriots, to the plunder of natural resources and to the dysfunction of the State".
Finally, the Bishops remind the people of Central Africa "that security is above all a commitment and a personal, community and national attitude through words, acts and patriotic behavior (rejection of hatred, respect, unity, dignity). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 18/1/2018)