In the past few weeks, Pope Francis has constantly kept one fragile country in his thoughts, the Central African Republic.
URBI ET ORBI DECEMBER 25
"Grant peace, dear Child, to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life.”
The Pope has also expressed his thoughts through Twitter. Most recently, he showed his concern for the country's situation, with a message written during the extraordinary consistory with other cardinals.
According to the United Nations' Human Development Index, the Central African Republic stands at 179, out of 187 countries. But it's not just poverty and a lack of opportunities that holds the country back. For months, a bloody civil war has killed hundreds of people, and uprooted thousands more to neighboring Chad or Cameroon.
The on-going violence makes it harder to bring in humanitarian aid. Close to 2.6 million people, almost half the country's population, are living in extreme conditions.
MSGR. DIEUDONNE NZAPALAINGA
Archbishop of Bangui (Central African Republic)
"We are speaking in the name of all the people who are still living in abandoned sites and don't have any recourse. We are asking that a solution is found on the international level so that security returns, so that Central Africans can receive their salaries, and so that cohesion returns and each one of us can rebuild this country that we all love.”
Since December 2012, the radical Séléka and the Christian Anti-Balaka militias have caused fear among the civilians. The Séléka target mainly Christians, while the Anti-Balaka target Muslims. Both have proved to be equally cruel. As a result, the unarmed, peaceful majority take the brunt of the violence at the hands of these two rebel groups.
"There is a big problem at the institutional level. There is no access to services, there are no more health services. Education isn't there, and it's really a very serious problem we are living right now.”
The situation worsens day by day. Several U.N. agencies have even warned about the risk of genocide in the Central African Republic, drawing comparisons to the traumatic events that took place twenty years ago in Rwanda.