AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - "We want to go home but we fear for our safety": the cry of Central African refugees in Cameroon to Cardinal Nzapalainga

Wednesday, 6 April 2022 refugees   violence   bishops  

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - More than 20,000 people, Central African refugees living in Gado-Badjeri, 26 km from Garoua-Boulai, on the road to Bertoua in Cameroon, have expressed their strong desire to return to the Central African Republic, to Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, and to His Exc. Mgr. Mireck Guckwa, Bishop of Bouar, during a meeting held on March 31. The Central African Cardinal visited the refugees to learn about their living conditions and encourage them to return to the country.
"I am from Ouham-Pendé and I am ready to return with my whole family. But there is no peace, how can we go back? Today, in Nzakoundou and Nzelete, my village, in the Bocaranga region, armed groups are still active. We will not be safe there", explains Benjamin Laoulé, one of the refugees. Gado-Badjeri, Traditional Head of this Cameroonian town, stresses that the problem of insecurity also affects the area where refugees are staying. "The security problem threatens the population here a lot. Because, on the other hand, the rebels of the 3Rs (Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation, a Central African rebel group) who are wreaking havoc on the other side of the border, under pressure from the Russian army and mercenaries, are entering here with weapons. People live in tension and today we can no longer cultivate. Soon we will have a food crisis if we do not cultivate this year and it will be serious", he warns. Cardinal Nzapalainga, echoing the anxieties and concerns of the refugees, stated: "I usually say that I am the voice of the voiceless. Certainly, the authorities have not come here, but I have come to collect your complaints, your sufferings to bring them to Bangui. That's why I'm here with the journalists, so that the authorities of our country listen to you. I promise you that when I'm in Bangui, people will be informed of your situation", says the Cardinal. Gado-Badjeri hosts more than 29,600 Central African refugees. According to the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the first repatriation of these refugees is scheduled for April 11. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/4/2022)