Catholic Church only institution left in Central African Republic

The Catholic Church is the only institution still functioning in the war-torn Central African Republic, an African archbishop says.

“The state no longer exists,” said Archbishop Samuel Kleda from Cameroon.

“The only institution that is functioning [in the CAR] is the Catholic Church,” he said.

“Actually, the displaced are living in Catholic parishes,” Archbishop Kleda told Fides News Agency.

He said this just before the United Nations approved the creation of a UN peacekeeping force for the strife-ridden nation.

The force will have up to 10,000 troops, 1800 police and 20 corrections officers.

The UN operation will take over in September from an African Union force, which was deployed in December.

During a recent visit to CAR Bangui, UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said French and African soldiers serving in the country were being overwhelmed by a state of anarchy

The mainly Muslim Seleka seized power a year ago, perpetrating abuses on the majority Christian population that triggered revenge attacks by anti-Balaka fighters.

This led to thousands of deaths and the displacing of hundreds of thousands of people.

Senior UN officials have warned that the violence in the large, sparsely populated country is in danger of spiralling into genocide.

One quarter of the CAR’s 4.6 million population is said to be Roman Catholic, and the majority are Christian.

Archbishop Kleda visited the CAR capital Bangui to show solidarity with the local people.

He said the violence in the CAR is not a sectarian, religious war, but a “war of predation” between rebels and militia.

Some believe the root cause of the violence is not religious, but economic.

The CAR is near the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index.

There are only 20 registered businesses in the country and little normal schooling.

Religious leaders believe many of the young men recruited to join the Seleka did so because they were previously promised jobs in the army.

The jobs never materialised.

And many of the young men involved in the anti-balaka are motivated because they don’t have work.



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