Central African Republic - "Peace is still a long way away"
A local Catholic priest has called for a quick resolution of the conflict in the Central African Republic, even as he warned that peace is still a long way off.
Father Federico Trinchero, the Prior of the Carmelite Monastery in Bangui, made his comments while talking with international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
He said, "The people of the Central African Republic are awaiting a truly political solution. But such a solution will only yield a positive result if it does not involve any compromises with anyone who uses violence or propagates the spirit of vengeance."
The people were "tired and discouraged" and they didn't believe in promises any more, the Italian Carmelite Father explained. Foreign troops, he said, were not able to act effectively and often came too late.
The attack on the Church of Our Lady of Fatima in the capital Bangui on May 28, when at least 18 people were killed, and the fact that the fate of more than 40 abducted hostages was still uncertain, showed that peace was "still a long way away."
The church which had been attacked was only a few miles from the Carmelite monastery. The situation around the monastery was relatively calm at the moment, but the attack had again led to a growth in the number of refugees.
More than 7000 refugees turned the site of the monastery into one of the largest refugee camps in the capital.
"We hope that the refugees will soon be able to return home, but no end is in sight."
Since December, 30 babies had already been born in the monastery's refectory alone. At times there were 15,000 refugees on the site of the monastery.
"I'm afraid that the process of reconciliation will take years. The country has undergone a very profound break.”
“But I hope that it will be possible to mobilize the vital energies of the young people to enable them to take the future of the country into their own hands," Trinchero said.
"The Church is not looking on passively, but is continuing with its mission. Nevertheless this may trouble many of those who do not love peace."
With picture of refugee camp on the compound of the Carmelite Monastery "Notre Dame du Mont Carmel" in Bangui, Central African Republic. (© ACN)