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Bangui – “With the liberation of the major urban centers, armed groups concentrate their presence in the suburbs and in some places where they commit violence”, denounces the Episcopal Conference of the Central African Republic in the message published at the end of the annual retreat in the city of Bouar, in the west of the country. “When the Central African armed forces and their allies arrived, bandits and guerrillas withdrew into the bush with their weapons and baggage. Therefore, they are still a source of insecurity for the rest of the population”, the Bishops say.
Among the areas threatened by armed groups, the Bishops cite “the south-east region that goes from Zémio to the border with South Sudan, that of Mingala and Zangba in the prefecture of Bassa Kotto, of the area that goes from Bocaranga to Ngaoundaye and of Ndim in Paoua in Ouham Pendé, and on the border with Cameroon and Chad”.
The Bishops rejoice at the progress made at a political level, such as the holding of elections that allowed the election of the Head of State and the deputies of the National Assembly, but complain about the worsening of the humanitarian situation with over 700,000 internally displaced people, half of the population in a situation of food insecurity, aggravated by the fact that the rebels block traffic by laying mines on the main roads of the Country. “We note with desolation the use of antipersonnel mines that cause despair among the population”, they say.
Furthermore, agricultural activities are at risk because farmers and shepherds are victims of kidnapping for the purpose of extortion. As a result, the cost of living has risen. The Bishops’ Conference is also concerned about reports of abuse by the Central African army and its allies. “The soldiers of the national army have a duty to lead by example”. Finally, the Bishops reaffirm their concern at the fact that Central Africa has become the scene of a proxy war between France and the Russian Federation .
To resolve the conflict, the solution cannot be solely military. “We must reach out”, say the Bishops who are calling for an inclusive dialogue, the start of the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration into civil society of the combatants and the establishment of the Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission.