Emergency aid for the refugees in Bangui

 Over the past few months, it had looked as though things were settling down just a little in the Central African Republic, but then on 26 September serious unrest broke out once again in the capital Bangui. More than 40 people were killed, and there was widespread looting, with one Christian church being burned down. In addition to this, around 800 prisoners were freed from prison, among them many rebel fighters. Around 40,000 people were forced to flee the violence, taking refuge in the monasteries and convents, in the parish centres and inside the airport perimeter, where thousands of refugees have already been staying for the past two years. The situation has been made worse by the fact that many of the centres of the humanitarian relief organisations were also looted, including the offices of Caritas, whose staff are now also sheltering, along with the other refugees.

These people are in urgent need of help. Christine du Coudray, the head of the Africa desk at ACN’s international headquarters, reports: “more than ever this country needs our prayers, our help and our attention.” As it happens, elections were supposed to have been held in October. And additionally, Pope Francis is planning to visit the country on 29 and 30 November. These should in fact have been signs of hope for a better and more peaceful future. Christine du Coudray continues: “We are hoping and praying that all these hopes will not simply be brought to nothing. Everything possible needs to be done to stop this country sinking once again into a spiral of violence and chaos.”

Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, who is also president of the Central African bishops’ conference and president of the national Caritas association, has been visiting the many refugee camps and endeavouring to provide food and the most urgent help. ACN is helping him with 112,000 Euros.