Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By CNA/EWTN News

12/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A year of violence threatening the stability of the Central African Republic has escalated in recent weeks, leaving more than one million people in need amidst calls for foreign aid and warnings of the potential for genocide.

There has been shooting on the streets and people hacked to death with machetes on the streets of central Africa republic's capital of Bangui.

There has been shooting on the streets and people hacked to death with machetes on the streets of central Africa republic's capital of Bangui.

Highlights

By CNA/EWTN News

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: CAR, Africa, starvation


BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, December 10 (CNA/EWTN News) -  "In the capital Bangui, where I am, there has been shooting on the streets and people hacked to death with machetes," said Renee Lambert, Catholic Relief Service's country manager in the Central African Republic.

"Tens of thousands of people are camped out at makeshift (internally displaced person) camps throughout the city or sheltering with host families, hoping that the arriving French troops can quell the violence."

Lambert told CNA Dec. 8 that the "people of CAR have been living in a state of perpetual fear and uncertainty for almost a year now," and the situation has become "desperate."

The Central African Republic was engulfed in a war from 2004 to 2007, but violence broke out again in December, 2012. On March 24, Seleka rebels ousted the president and installed their own leader in a coup.

The Seleka have since been officially disbanded, but its members have not disarmed, and reports indicate that they are continuing to  plunder the country through looting, torture and rape.

Of the country's population of some 4.5 million, more than 460,000 have been displaced from their homes by this year's violence, the U.N. estimates. Last week, 394 people were killed in the capital Bangui alone, according to the Red Cross.

Nearly three weeks ago, on Nov. 21, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told television station France 2 that "the country is on the verge of genocide," as the violence seems to have become increasingly sectarian, pitting Christians and Muslims against each other.

"The people of CAR need our help," stressed Lambert. "We cannot turn away from what is happening here - it cannot be ignored . if we stand aside and watch we will never forgive ourselves."

"History teaches us lessons and I only hope that this time we listen to our past. The situation is already horrific."

Both France and the African Union have increased the presence of their forces in the nation, in an effort to contain the violence. Last week, France deployed 1,600 soldiers to the Central African Republic, and the African Union is increasing the size of its force in the country from 2,500 to 6,000.

Abbot Dieu-Béni Mbanga, who is chancellor of the Bangui archdiocese, explained in letters that violence erupted in earnest in the capital beginning Dec. 5.

"Some residents caught between warring parties stayed holed up at home; others found refuge in churches and with religious communities. By mid-morning, the parishes of St. John of Galabadja and Bangui's Cathedral of Our Lady the Immaculate had taken in some 1,000 people."

Four more parishes in the Bangui archdiocese received more than 10,000 additional displaced persons throughout the day, he reported. "Church facilities also took in the wounded who have been without medical care until now."

Some parishes were threatened by ex-Seleka, and others came under fire. In a Dec. 7 letter, Abbot Mbanga wrote that "Church structures continue to take in people who fear for their lives, including some Muslims who are afraid they will be the targets of revenge attacks by Christians who themselves have been the victims of reprisals at the hand of other Muslims, Seleka militants or others."

"It will take time, much time, for the Central African Republic to heal from these wounds."

The latest spate of violence has not been restricted to Bangui; Lambert related that it "has also picked up in the northwest." In Bossangoa, 200 miles north of the capital, "tensions have again escalated. Food is scarce, water also. People are living in really cramped conditions, sleeping where they can on mats on the ground."

Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Bossangoa are providing support to more than 40,000 people who have been displaced and have sought refuge in at the Catholic mission in the city, as well as those who have taken refuge at "Catholic missions and schools" in Bouar.

"We've also been giving out food vouchers in the Lobaye Prefecture that people can exchange for local produce, so that needy families are fed and local markets are supported," Lambert explained. "Seeds and tools were distributed earlier in the year so that people could once
again grow their own produce - as most had lost out on a growing season due to the violence."

Lambert also reflected that the fighting "has taken on unfortunate religious dimensions, dividing Christians and Muslims who have always lived together peacefully in the past."

"We stand with those in need, whether they're Christian or Muslim," she said.

In recent months, Central Africans have responded to the ex-Seleka by forming militias of their own, called anti-balaka, and violence has flared. The anti-balaka - meaning anti-machete in the Sango language - have been characterized by the BBC as "Christian self-defense militias" and as "local Christian militias" by The Independent.

In a Dec. 7 statement, the bishops of the Central African Republic stated, "we condemn the transgressions committed by both armed factions, the anti-balaka and the ex-Seleka."

The bishops added that the fighting is not solely divided by religion, explaining that "not all anti-balaka are Christians and that not all Christians are anti-balaka," and that "the same is true for ex-Seleka and Muslims."

The Central African Republic is among the world's poorest countries, with extremely low human development and major human rights abuses; the U.N. has indicated it is in danger of becoming a failed state. More than one million are in urgent need of food aid.

It borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, and South Sudan, many of which have experienced dramatic upheavals of their own in recent years.

The violence has forced many nonprofits to withdraw to Bangui, leaving the remainder of the country helpless. Doctors Without Borders reported in July that the country's health care system has collapsed.In parts of the Central African Republic, malaria cases have doubled in the past year.

"The French and African Union forces are arriving and we just hope that order can be restored, and that people can live in peace once again," Lambert reflected.

"This beautiful country and its people need - and deserve - our help."

-----

Catholic Online is teaming up with Your Catholic Voice Foundation to answer the call from Pope Francis to feed the world. You are asked to pray and act with the Holy Father. Please click the link below to see how you can answer Pope Francis' call to action.



---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Africa

The Tunisian beach hotel massacre: Was the killer involved with ISIS? Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last Friday, a very tragic event happened at the Imperial Marhaba Beach Hotel in Sousse, Tunisia. A 23-year-old man dressed just like any other tourist, passed by the hotel, and shot foreigners with a Kalashnikov rifle, he had hidden under his umbrella. Thirty-nine ... continue reading


Italian priests exorcise Nigerian migrant girls forced into prostitution compelled by voodoo spell Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Italian authorities have given the Catholic priests permission to "exorcise," or do counter-magic to Nigerian migrant girls who have been "under a voodoo spell to work as prostitutes." There are around 25,000 women from Nigeria who have been brought to Italy by ... continue reading


Boko Haram kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls believed to be brainwashed and now fighting for their captors Watch

Image of Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls remain missing more than a year later.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two hundred and nineteen girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, from the boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, are believed to have been brainwashed and now working for the Boko Haram, as reported by Amnesty International. The girls who were taken from their school grounds, a ... continue reading


Terrorist slaughters 37 on Tunisian beach resort of Sousse Watch

Image of Witnesses say the gunman started firing from the beach before moving onto the Imperial Hotel's swimming pool.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-seven people have been killed - and at least another 36 were injured in a terrorist shooting spree in the beachside town of Sousse in Tunisia. At least five people from the United Kingdom are listed as among the dead. The believed gunman in the massacre, ... continue reading


Ugandan witch doctors abducting, killing children for body parts Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a satanic practice once thought consigned to a very, very dark age - but it is increasing in frequency throughout the African nation of Uganda. "Witch doctors" are abducting and killing schoolchildren to use their body parts in malefic rituals. It is ... continue reading


Somali men demoralized, turn to drugs after more women become breadwinners Watch

Image of Many Somali men, usurped from the traditional role of breadwinner in many households, have turned to divorce and substance abuse.

By Katy Migiro, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Men in war-torn Somalia suffer high rates of drug addiction, divorce and mental illness, researchers said, urging donors to do more to support men and strengthen families. NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In Somali culture, men are expected to provide all ... continue reading


Tour guide risks life attempting to save American tourist horrifically killed by lion Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Katherine Chappell, the American tourist attacked and killed by a lion during an African safari tour, was being attacked, the staff of the park hesitated to treat Chappell and the ambulance took a long time to arrive, according to Pierre Potgieter, the tour guide. ... continue reading


Obianuju Ekeocha: The case against Abortion, An Appeal for Mercy from a Nigerian Woman Watch

Image of Abortion is not for us or our children - for it is a violent solution sanitized within the wounded heart of the western world and we just cannot accept it now or ever. - Uju

By Obianuju Ekeocha

In the last few years, we have woken up to the indescribable horror and terror of Boko Haram. And every one of us will agree that their actions and operations are merciless, viscous and violent beyond words. And so we pray for an end to the death and destruction ... continue reading


African governments swindled from tax dollars they need for development Watch

Image of Tax reform would go a long way towards funding new commitments to improve schooling and healthcare in Africa.

By Stella Dawson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Multinational companies deprive African governments of $11 billion in taxes each year, and G7 world leaders should set up a new global body to regulate corporate taxation, Oxfam International said on Monday. WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - By shifting ... continue reading


American tourist attacked and killed by lion during African Safari Park tour Watch

Image of A lion [not pictured] attacked a tourist during the safari tour.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When one 22 year old tourist from the United States planned her trip to South Africa, being mauled and attacked by a big angry cat was definitely not part of her itinerary. Unfortunately for this young woman, it turned out this trip would be her last.  MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


All Africa News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29
1 When Isaac had grown old, and his eyes were so weak ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 135:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! Praise the name of Yahweh, you who serve ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:14-17
14 Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 4th, 2015 Image

St. Elizabeth of Portugal
July 4: Elizabeth was a Spanish princess who was given in marriage to ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter