CLOSE X
Advertisement

Muslims sheltering in CAR Catholic church 'growing desperate'

Africa
Bangassou – Approximately 1,500 Muslim civilians sheltering in a Catholic church in Bangassou in the Central African Republic (CAR), after fleeing vigilante violence carried out by the Anti-balaka militia in May, are growing increasingly desperate, according to reports.

"The situation is not safe enough to leave, and so they cannot move from here," said Father Alain Blaise Bissialo, the church's priest, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday.

"There are men who walk around town with guns." Following the May attacks by the mostly Christian Anti-balaka, thousands fled from Tokoyo, a largely Muslim district of Bangassou, to a local mosque seeking refuge. However, the mosque was subsequently also attacked and the local imam killed.

Tell a friend
Members of the of the Anti-Balaka armed militia pose as they display their weapons in the town of Bocaranga, Central African Republic. Following the May attacks by the mostly Christian Anti-balaka, thousands fled from Tokoyo, a largely Muslim district of Bangassou, to a local mosque seeking refuge.

The Catholic church then intervened in a desperate attempt to save the civilians, sending trucks to Tokoyo which transported civilians back to the church in a bid to secure their safety.

"At last count, 150 people were killed during the violence since mid-May, but this number could rise," Antoinne Mbao Bogo, president of the local branch of the Red Cross, told Al Jazeera on Friday.

The United Nations (UN) reported that during the violence 35,000 Bangassou residents fled to internally displaced people (IDP) camps in CAR while others fled to IDP camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The UN mission in CAR (Minusca) said the security situation in Bangassou had calmed significantly but warned that it was still unsafe for IDPs to return to their homes.

"Despite the Minusca patrols the area is not safe enough and their homes and businesses have been destroyed, and so many have nowhere to go," said Vladimir Montiero, Minusca’s spokesperson in the capital Bangui.

Meanwhile, a number of non-governmental organisations have come forward to assist with food and sanitation. Over the last few months there has been an escalation in violence in central and south-eastern parts of CAR. The violence began when Muslim Seleka fighters unseated the country's president in a coup in 2013.

The Seleka fighters then proceeded to carry out systematic abuses against Christians and others which subsequently led to the establishment of the Anti-balaka, comprising Christians and animasts.

The UN reports that CAR is facing a dire humanitarian crisis with more than 50 percent of the country’s population requiring humanitarian assistance. At least one in five Central Africans are currently displaced, the highest proportion since the height of the crisis in 2014.

Tell a friend
Advertisement
X