We are in an open-pit prison held hostage by violent people

According to a news report from Agenzia Fides [the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, responsible for the missionary work of the Church] the Bishops of the Central African Republic [CAR] see their country as “an open-pit prison, where freedom of movement and freedom of speech are conditioned“.

Their statement denounces the violence committed by various armed groups that rage in the country: “the LRA (Lord ‘s Resistance Army of Ugandan origin) that has been rampant in the east for years, the Anti Balaka that persecute civilians and former Seleka members, supported by mercenaries from Chad and Sudan, determined to regain power”.

Even the Church has not been spared from violence, highlights the message, which strongly condemns “the kidnapping attempt of the pastor of Kembé by former Seleka members in Dimbi, the kidnapping of the Bishop of Bossangoa and three of his priests and the horrible murder of Don Christ Forman Wilibona in the Diocese of Bossangoa (see Rebels wanted to kill me)”.

To restore order, the Bishops call for the disarmament of illegal groups and the re-establishment of national armed forces, with the help of the international forces already present in the country.

The dramatic crisis that began in December 2012 has led to:

  1. 838,000 internally displaced people of whom 313,094 are grouped in 66 camps in the capital Bangui alone,
  2. 17,865 refugees from other countries in CAR,
  3. 245,868 Central African refugees in neighbouring countries
  4. and 31,196 foreigners evacuated from the country.

The statement also denounces the instability that has increased the illegal exploitation of the country’s resources, from wood to wildlife, from gold to diamonds, by those fuelling the conflict.

“We need international solidarity to cope with the worst crisis in our history, but that does not exempt us of our responsibility as citizens.”

The Bishops statement is an appeal to the President, the transitional government and the international forces who have received the mandate of the United Nations”, the message concludes. (Agenzia Fides 12/05/2014)