ACN grants 112,000 euros in emergency aid as 40,000 people flee latest wave of violence
A renewed outbreak of violence in the capital of the Central African Republic Bangui on 26 September has led more than 40,000 people to flee their homes. This was reported to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) by local representatives of the church. They said that the people have fled to the premises of churches and monasteries, where thousands of displaced persons have already been living for almost two years, and to the refugee camp at the international airport. These refugees are now in desperate need of assistance, the church representatives continued and described the situation as all the more precarious because numerous humanitarian facilities have been looted. These include facilities run by the local Caritas organisation; their employees are now among the displaced persons.
Christine du Coudray, head of the African section of Aid to the Church in Need, reported that Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, President of the Central African Bishops’ Conference and the national Caritas organisation, is currently visiting the many refugee camps, trying to meet at least the most urgent needs by distributing food. She described the situation as dramatic. Aid to the Church in Need has approved 112,000 euros in immediate aid to provide first relief.
Over the course of the most recent unrest, more than 40 people have been killed, a church was burned down and numerous facilities looted. In addition, 800 inmates were freed from a prison, including many rebels. According to Ms du Coudray, the situation is “very confused” and it is difficult to assess how it will develop further. “More than ever, this country needs our prayers, our help and our attention.”
The upcoming elections and the papal visit planed for the end of November are “a sign of hope for a better and more peaceful future”. The international pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need received a communiqué issued by the Apostolic Nunciature in Bangui that announced that the Holy Father still hopes to “personally meet and bless each and every Central African” during his trip scheduled for 29 and 30 November. Christine du Coudray said, “We hope and pray that this hope will not be dashed.” She then continued by saying that it is necessary “to do everything within the realms of possibility to ensure that the country does not descend once more into a spiral of violence and chaos.”
Central African Republic, , Fr. Anastasio Roggero with refugee children in the Convent of the Carmelite Fathers at Bangui