Bangui (Agenzia Fides) – It is necessary to disarm “infiltrators” in churches and mosques in order to counteract gangs of militia and looters presently terrorising the country. This appeal has been launched by Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Oumar Kobine Layama, respectively Catholic Archbishop and Imam of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, according to information given to Fides News Agency. “May all the brothers carrying weapons hand over their arms. The military must disarm everyone, in churches and in mosques. Too many Central Africans carry weapons, Muslims and Christians. Arms take no sides” said Archbishop Nzapalainga.
“Armed men have moved into places of worship, even into mosques” the Imam agreed, calling for support for disarmament operations on the part of international forces sent to the Central African Republic to help local authorities stem the violence.
After the toppling from power of the Seleka Rebel group, the so-called Anti Balaka militia (composed of various groups, including bandits and criminals) has unleashed a man-hunt for Muslims, accused of being accomplices of the Seleka.
Looting has reduced the country to the limit . During a meeting with a councillor at the Embassy to the Order of Malta, Fr. Elkana Ndawatchi, representative of the archdiocese of Bangui, cited a report issued last May 2013 by the World Health Organization, which found that out of 117 health centres visited in the areas most affected by armed conflict, 49 hospitals and health centres had been destroyed and 80% of the medical staff had been forced to evacuate the central areas of country.
“In Bangui – the priest added – of 24 healthcare existing centres only 17 are able to function and 9 of these are Catholic medical centres. While out of 4 hospitals at the secondary an tertiary levels only 3 still offer some assistance.” The representative of the Order of Malta gave the local Church 5 million CFA Francs to support affected Catholic health centres and said that more aid in the form of medical drugs is presently held at up at the port of Douala (Cameroon) because roads between the two countries are insecure. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 24/2/2014)
What we know about recent events in Africa:
- We know from recent reports that the borders in and around the Central African Republic are very porous allowing refugees to flee, but with those refugees are also rebels in hiding, posing security threats in the far north, from those fleeing CAR, chad, Nigeria and Sudan.
- We know these threats include kidnapping and concealed militants.
- We also have reports of arms smuggling and shipments traveling the region, in fact a recent shipment was intercepted from a man attempting to smuggle 655 guns into Nigeria.
- We also know that the Boko Haram are operating and causing destruction, murder and chaos in Nigeria. So are the arms from the rebel factions in CAR like the Seleka, and the Anti-Balaka being transported to Boko Haram and vice versa? It’s almost impossible to tell.
- It’s being reported that observers are quick to point out that the Boko Haram in Nigeria is a major force driving the weapons trade.
- And, it’s also reported that the government in CAR has not evaluated or determined where millions of arms that were reported looted from their armories have gone.
- According to several reports , David Mekong (Political Analyst) is quoted as saying that the Boko Haram in Nigeria have escalated their war, and this does seem to offer explanations as the reports of arms smuggling and trafficking through other war zones, such as Sudan, CAR, Liby and DRC. He is also credited with this quote: “After wars, firearms are sold at relatively low prices, a real business opportunity for traffickers. As disarmament and demobilization is taking place in CAR, arms from the conflict can easily reach Boko Haram and others crisis zones.”
This entire area is becoming a hot bed of illegal arms trading, human trafficking, smuggling, and kidnapping. Children are most vulnerable. While they concentrate on who is doing what and who is who in CAR, rebels and weapons are making their way into other volatile regions. And still the question of who is training and organizing the militant group known as ‘Anti-balaka’ goes unanswered. I heard a interview on Al-Jazeera, a biased but growing media outlet. The announcer asked this question, of who was training and arming the Anti-balaka, and the expert avoided it all together. No answer except they are a Christian Militia. Here is a screen shot from that video:
While most admit that the cycle of violence is traced to the Seleka, nothing has been done to find out who these militants are. This killing of Christians and Muslims alike has got to cease.
Still unanswered questions, that lead to still more questions. While the violence escalates, pray for the people in these regions. Pray for peace, pray for protection, and comfort. Pray for swift travel for those providing aid.
Sources: The Nigerian Tribune, The Fides Agency, The IRIN