Bishops of the Central African Republic have described their country as “an open-pit prison, where freedom of movement and freedom of speech are conditioned.”
In a statement published Monday, the Central African Bishops’ Conference condemns the violence committed by various armed groups including the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, and the Anti Balaka organization that persecutes 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, the statement adds, and the bishops strongly condemn “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”.
To restore order, the bishops have called for the disarmament of illegal groups and the re-establishment of national armed forces, with the help of international forces in the country, Fides reports.
The prelates point out that the dramatic crisis, which began in December 2012, has led to 838,000 internally displaced people, of whom 313,094 are grouped into 66 camps in the capital Bangui alone. 17,865 Central African refugees and 245,868 Central African refugees are in neighboring countries while 31,196 foreigners have evacuated the country.
The statement also denounces the instability, leading to an increase in 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 message concludes. “This statement aims to be an appeal to the President, the transitional government and the international forces who have received the mandate of the United Nations.”