West & Central Africa

Cardinal denounces crimes in Central African Republic

The United Nations (UN) has continued to raise alarm at the “massive new levels” of displacement in the protracted crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR).

“Since May, fresh and fierce clashes between armed groups in the CAR have wrought increasing suffering, deaths and destruction of property,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The report says, “Many newly displaced people speak of having witnessed killings, robberies, lootings and kidnappings. Even after reaching safe locations, they often risk assault by armed groups, if they venture outside,” Mahecic added.

Stephen O’Brien, the outgoing head of the United Nations humanitarian office, last August, said the killings were beginning to indicate “early warnings of a genocide” with increasing clashes between Muslims and Christians.

UN peace keepers have been accused of complacency in the escalating crises by the catholic church in the war-torn country.

Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga, speaking to Deuche Welles (DW) in Münster, Germany, said, “Church denounces these crimes and the violence in the name of the victims. We call on all parties involved to put down their arms and return to dialogue. As you know, the church has no weapons. Our weapon is the word, which we direct to people’s minds and the hearts to convince them.”

The cardinal said the conflict has been instigated by politicians for their own purposes, “I have always said that this is not a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians. It is a military-political conflict. On one hand, we have people with arms and, on the other hand, the politicians who make statements about this conflict.

“Faith and religion are being misused and manipulated for political purposes. We want all sides to ask the war-

mongers to put down their arms, enter into dialogue and create peace in the country,” he added.

The cardinal who said, “I myself have welcomed an imam, who was threatened, and offered him protection. If it had been a religious war, this would not have been accepted. Within the framework of this conflict there are Christians protected by imams and Muslims protected by priests. This is our way to make it clear that it is not a religious war.”

In October 2013, a Muslim Seleka militia, rebelled against the government, and accused it of marginalization neglecting Muslims. The Seleka attacked towns and villages, killing raping and injuring thousands of people. The anti-Balaka militia (anti matches) was formed as a response, made of Christian groups to defense the vulnerable communities continuously being ravaged by the Muslim group.

As the war escalated and went out of control, other uncontrollable gangs of armed youth emerged rendering the country into a killing field.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits:CC Google Images/Soldier in CAR?Nzapalainga