Fr Aurélio Gazzera is the local diocesan Caritas director in Bouar in Northern Central African Republic.
Time flies by and days here are busy due to beginning of school and problems with rebels and refugees.
On Monday, we received WFP food aid for all refugees. We gave out the food in three days to more than 5000 people. We still have to go down the track from Bozoum toBossangoa to reach 1300 people who remain in the bush because they’re afraid of more raids from the Seleka fighters.
Despite a decision to demobilize Seleka, its fighters keep causing trouble. In Bossangoa this week there have been more clashes and houses burnt down. Thousands have fled. In the village of Tolle (about 70 km from Bozoum) a man was killed and houses raised by fire.
Word has got around about the incident last week when I was slapped by a Seleka ‘general’. The Seleka chief here in Bozoum, the mayor, and some police officers came to see me. The Seleka chief apologized.
I repeated once more that it’s time to put an end to violence, to random arrests, torture and looting. He replied they arrested only those whom had weapons. I said that’s not true, and that many are taken only for ransom. Anyway, I said it is not enough to take weapons off people. They can still kill with bare hands or stones: if we do not change our hearts, possessing weapons or not doesn’t make much of a difference.
We parted well. Let’s hope for the best!
Schools are reopening again. From the crèche to secondary school, we’ll have more than 1200 pupils once more going through joys and hustles of schooling life.
Going to school here is always a tiny miracle. The other day I was preparing enrollment and a mother and daughter came by. I asked which class does her daughter go to, and the daughter replied. I asked her for her name and the child replied. So I asked if she was she happy to go back to school, she nodded happily with a huge smile.
These are the things that really matter. These are the reasons we want war and violence to stop. But there are still 25000 rebels around us and very little hope for peace. In Bangui, over 12 days only 130 rifles have been handed in during the disarmament. We doubt there can be elections within 15 months, there are no records, no prefects and it’s impossible to travel freely.
Meanwhile, several members of the Central African Republic civil society appealed at the United Nations in New York Wednesday 25 September to support an end to the crisis in their country. They were supported in their efforts by Caritas Internationalis . The delegation met the diplomatic missions of the United States, France, Rwanda , Australia and representatives of the EU, UN agencies and NGOs.