Violations in Central African Republic outrage bishops

Africa’s Catholic bishops have expressed “shock and outrage” at human rights violations in the Central African Republic, where in recent months the social fabric has been “completely torn up”.

One of the world’s poorest countries, the landlocked Central African Republic has an extremely low level of human development.

The population of 5.2 million is 50 per cent and about half the Christians are Catholic.

Though Muslims make up no more than 15 per cent of the population, the Islamist rebel movement Seleka seized control in March, suspending the constitution and dissolving the parliament.

The Seleka have also plundered the country, looting from families, religious orders and the Church.

The African Catholic bishops’ conference expressed “shock and outrage” at the “serious human rights violations” in the country, as well as the “quasi indifference of the international community”.

The bishops called on international bodies, including the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations, to “help end all foreign interference in the country” and to “guarantee emergency humanitarian assistance”.

The bishops themselves have mobilised the Catholic aid agency Caritas to contribute to an appeal for the country, and said they “urge … sister Churches of the world to intensify their solidarity with Caritas and the Church of the Central African Republic in their efforts to help the many victims”.

The international medical agency Doctors Without Borders said that the country’s health care system had collapsed, with most aid agencies having withdrawn to the capital city, leaving the rest of the country helpless.

Earlier, a statement from Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui and nine humanitarian organisations said about a million children are not going to school, thousands of children have been forced into the ranks of armed groups, the population is deprived of the most basic services, and “children and especially girls are exposed to a large number of abuses, including sexual violence and early marriage”.

The Central African Republic is surrounded by six of Africa’s most fragile nations: Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Cameroon.


Catholic News Agency

Vatican News

Catholic News Service

Image: Caritas

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