CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Salesian Centers Still Caring for More than 25,0000 Displaced
(MissionNewswire) More than 25,000 displaced people remain at a Salesian center in the Catholic diocese of Kaga-Bangoro in northern Central African Republic and another 500 at a Salesian center in Galabadja near Bangui, the capital city of the country. Even though violence has eased in several parts of the country, a lack of safe shelter and food as well as fear of the gunfire often heard outside the Salesian compounds, keeps people from leaving.
On September 15, 2014, the United Nations took over a regional African peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic. The UN command will increase the number of peacekeeping troops to 12,000 joining 4,800 African troops and 1,000 international police from the previous mission. The UN is also working to secure better financing and air support for the mission. Humanitarian groups noted that while the presence of African Union and French peacekeepers has helped deter some of the violence, it has not stopped attacks on civilians.
The new UN peacekeeping mission should improve protection for civilians in eastern and central parts of the country where sectarian violence has been increasing. UN peacekeepers are focusing on the protection of civilians and while working to build safe zones and support the country’s government.
Since violence broke out in December 2012 between Séléka rebels and Christian anti-balaka militia groups, thousands have died, more than 650,000 have been internally displaced (with more than 232,000 in the capital city of Bangui alone) and 300,000 have fled across the borders as refugees. According to the UN, close to 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.
In December 2013, a new wave of violence broke out in the city of Bangui sending people fleeing from their homes in search of safety and shelter. During the escalation of violence, communities were raided and homes burned. Salesian missionaries, who were already working in communities in the Central African Republic prior to the outbreak, reported at the time that a Salesian center in Galabadja had been host to 20,000 internally displaced people and one in Damala had taken in an estimated 50,000. Many displaced victims arrived at the Salesian centers injured and in desperate need of medical attention.
Because there was an influx of so many over a short period of time, resources were limited. Salesian missionaries partnered with Doctors Without Borders to convert one of the rooms at a Salesian center in Bangui into a small health facility. Doctors have been able to treat a variety of ailments suffered by those arriving at the center for the first time and those who have been sheltering there. Thanks to the Salesian center, Doctors Without Borders has had access to a safe work space, electricity, water and coordination of services, enabling them to carry out much needed emergency and ongoing health services.
While the situation has improved and many have left the shelter of Salesian centers, the situation remains precarious. Those still internally displaced are homeless and have no other source of shelter and food other than what’s provided at the Salesian centers. Education has also been virtually non-existent within the country as schools remain closed or without teachers. In Bangui, classes are expected to resume in October but it remains unclear when technical institutes and universities will resume classes.
Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, launched an emergency fund in December 2013 to assist with this and other emergencies in Africa. People who want to make a donation to help those in need can go to the donation page on SalesianMissions.org and select “African Crisis Fund.”
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