AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Appeal of the Episcopate against war and divisions in the presence of a people suffering from unspeakable misery

Tuesday, 19 January 2021 wars   bishops   displaced persons  

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "The exacerbated division of the political class and the lack of patriotism have left the country at the mercy of predators and mercenaries of all kinds, subsidized in arms and equipment. The war imposed on us today aims to destroy the deep aspirations of the Central African people, who are tired and disappointed by endless calculations, conflicts and political divisions", denounce the Bishops of the Central African Republic in a message sent to Agenzia Fides. yYesterday, January 18, the confirmation of the victory of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, in the elections of December 27 by the Constitutional Court, did not resolve the fragility of an election where only 35% of the voters were able to express their preference. The control of large areas of the territory by rebel groups has in fact prevented a large part of the Central Africans from going to the polls, while the capital Bangui suffered an attack by a rebel coalition (see Fides, 13 and 14/12021). The Bishops express their "dismay" at the resurgence of looting and destruction of barely rehabilitated administrative premises, as well as the theft of private property. "The misery of the Central African people is unspeakable, when populations, perpetually displaced, are forced to find refuge in inhuman conditions in the bush and when children have yet to finish their schooling after a bad year due to the Covid-19 pandemic". "To politicians and armed groups, we say that the Central African Republic is not owned by any individual, clan or interest group. We have been living in a political-military crisis for eight years", write the Bishops, who renew the call for dialogue: "Various proposals aiming to get out of the crisis through several agreements have been concluded but we are blocked". "We call for a sincere and frank, fraternal and constructive dialogue, to find a just and lasting peace, rejecting hatred, violence and a spirit of revenge. Let's stop harming ourselves collectively. Let's stop creating divisions that are contrary to the spirit of our motto. Let us stop giving the wealth of our country to a minority according to their political affiliation or their tribal affinities. Let's stop destroying ourselves. Our country has suffered too many external plots with local complicity. Let's not forget the motto "Coming together is a start, staying together is progress, working together ensures success". Let us unite forever to save our nation", the Bishops conclude. In the meantime, Bangassou, the town taken by the rebels earlier this month, has been liberated. His Exc. Mgr. Juan José Aguirre Muñoz, Bishop of Bangassou, announced the arrival, on January 14, of a battalion of 150 Rwandan soldiers from MINUSCA (UN Mission in Central Africa), who have secured the city. In recent days, the priests of the diocese have distributed clothing to more than 100 people in addition to oil, chickpeas, lentils and cans of tuna. Before leaving, the rebels ransacked shops and homes as well as the Niakari mission, 18 km from Bangassou. Two Blue Helmets lost their lives yesterday, January 18, in a rebel ambush 17 km from the city. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 19/1/2021)