Bangui Archbishop Brings Hope to People of Central African Republic

Carmelite Missionary Recounts Visit of Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga to Victims of Violence

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A Carmelite missionary praised the visit of Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, president of the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic (CAR), saying that he “came to bring the solidarity of Christians in Bangui.”

According to Fides News Agency, Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, who has worked in the CAR since 1992, stated that over 2,400 people have been displaced after fleeing the killings perpetrated by the Seleka rebel group.

The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since the rebel coalition overthrew the government and installed rebel leader Michael Djotodia as president.

Archbishop Nzapalainga, who visited Bangui last week, met with delegates from 8 villages that refugees fled from. «Their representatives presented the situation and expressed their needs. First of all peace and security. And then medicine, food, shelter for sleeping etc. …,» Fr. Gazzera told Fides.

«We also met one of the few officials still in town. But he has no power, because everything is in the hands of the rebels, who do what they want, and even administer justice», said the missionary.

Fr, Gazzera also stated that they met with the Consul of Chad, where many of the rebels come from and said that he “told him that those villages should be left alone. The Archbishop, along with his delegation, also met with several displaced families and on Sunday, celebrated Mass with them.

«The Archbishop of Bangui helped us to believe and hope», Fr. Gazzera said. After Mass, the Carmelite missionary accompanied Archbishop Nzapalainga in visiting several villages where he said many are living in fear. «In Kemo people are present, but are terrified. Some of them had been tied up and beaten», he recalled.

“We crossed the river to meet the rebels. Their leader, slouched in a chair, only spoke Arabic. His deputy acted as interpreter. [We said] that we came to visit the villages affected by their violence and killings, but the leader says that it was not true, that there was nothing. I [made] him repeat it twice. After leaving their base, across the street, we saw the villagers. We met them and encouraged them».

Fr. Gazzera concluded that while the visit gave a bit of hope to the people of the Central African Republic, there is still much sadness. “What we saw is a very small part of the pain and suffering that the Country has been going through for 5 months now,” Fr. Gazzera said.

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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