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 March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


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


Comments


More Africa

Zimbabwe child brides fight back in court Watch

Image of Across sub-Saharan Africa, 40 percent of women are married as children.

By Emma Batha, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Two former child brides have taken Zimbabwe's government to court in a groundbreaking bid to get child marriages declared illegal and unconstitutional. LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi say child marriage, which is rife ... continue reading


Baby girls being raped in eastern Congo in ongoing crimes against humanity Watch

Image of Girls as young as 18 months are being raped and left with horrific injuries in eastern Congo after being stolen from their homes at night, a charity said on Tuesday.

By Katie Ngyuen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Girls as young as 18 months are being raped and left with horrific injuries in eastern Congo after being stolen from their homes at night, a charity said on Tuesday. LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The children, many of them under five, have been treated at ... continue reading


Beheading of 21 Copts by ISIS 'a turning point for the world,' Coptic bishop says Watch

Image of Bishop Angaelos specializes in advocacy and human rights initiatives.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at panel, "Sensitivity Rather Than Sensationalism: Western Media Coverage of Human Rights and Religious Issues in the Middle East," Bishop Anba Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Egypt for the U.K. spoke out on the ... continue reading


Militants attack Tunisia, 21 killed as hostages taken Watch

Image of Tunisian security forces stormed the museum, where the gunmen and hostages were, killing the two gunmen.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Men dressed in military garb entered a Tunisia museum, opened fire and killed 19 people while taking hostages, ending in a firefight between security forces and the gunmen. The current death count stands at 21. According to Mohamed Ali Aroui, an Interior Ministry ... continue reading


Libyan terrorist sieze nine hostages, two oilfields days before ceasefire negotiations Watch

Image of Radical Islamist groups have seized a number of oil fields in Libya, providing massive revenues for their ongoing war against the Libyan government.

By Kaci Racelma (Catholic Online)

Libyan terrorist groups are wasting no time opening a new chapter of violence, seizing two oil fields earlier this month before taking nine foreigners hostage. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Islamic militants took Al-Bahi and Al-Mabrouk oilfields on March 3, ... continue reading


Nigerian terror group Boko Haram pledges allegiance to ISIS Watch

Image of The recording appeared to be authentic. Jacob Zenn, an expert on the terror group said that while other messages have been faked, the speaker in this one is Shekau.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Evil compliments evil, evidently. Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has officially pledged their allegiance to Islamic State on an online audio recording posted to the Internet this past weekend. The message came from Boko Haram's alleged leader, Abubakar ... continue reading


Christian monks in Egypt face death by bulldozer to cries of 'Allahu Akbar!' Watch

Image of Coptic monks lie before bulldozers as workers chant

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Coptic monks in Egypt are facing death by bulldozer as road workers chanting "Allah Akbar!" plan to bulldoze an ancient Christian site to construct a road. To protest the project, monks have laid before the bulldozers. So far, no lives have been lost, but a great risk ... continue reading


Terrifying Ebola-styled outbreak may affect nearly 30 countries Watch

Image of It is now critical to bolster the health systems of other poor countries so they can deal with any Ebola-style outbreak.

By Joseph D'Urso, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Almost 30 countries around the world are "highly vulnerable" to an Ebola-style epidemic, with Somalia, Chad, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Haiti most at risk, a major charity said on Tuesday. LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An increasingly mobile global population ... continue reading


Beaten to death and set on fire, Nigerian girl accused of being a Boko Haram suicide bomber Watch

Image of A second suspected teenage girl, also accused of being a suicide bomber was later arrested at the Muda Lawal market.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Suspected of being a suicide bomber with Boko Haram, a teenage girl was beaten to death, and then set on fire in a Nigerian vegetable market. A second suspected teenage girl, also accused of being a suicide bomber was later arrested at the Muda Lawal market, ... continue reading


Cease-fire agreement promises hope to war torn Mali Watch

By Kaci Racelma (Catholic Online)

A peace deal has been signed in Mali, potentially bringing an end to a war which has devastated the west African nation for years. ALGIERS, ALGERIA (Catholic Online) - A representative of the Azawad independence movement, Bilal Ag Cherif, met with a representative ... 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, Isaiah 50:4-7
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
8 'He trusted himself to Yahweh, let Yahweh set him ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 15:1-39
1 First thing in the morning, the chief priests, ... Read More

Reading 2, Philippians 2:6-11
6 Who, being in the form of God, did not count ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 29th, 2015 Image

St. Berthold
March 29: Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite ... 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