Sunday morning a guy I know well told me what happened to him the day before. He’s a mobile phone technician. After he went to Mbaiki (100km far from Bangui) for work, he was on his way from the capital with few others, when they came across few cars. Their driver, dazzled by their lights he flashed once. Unfortunately it was two cars full of Seleka rebels. They stopped the, and a colonel came threatening the driver with a pistol. They beaten him and spoke in Arab intimidated him. Eventually another rebel that was with them stepped in and made them stop.
The driver got wounded in the head, beaten by punches, and pistol’s butt. After they medicated him they went off to Bangui….
The guy wrote me “Personally I wasn’t harmed but I was very impressed to watch someone got beaten and I couldn’t do anything”
This is exactly how I feel regarding what’s happening here in CAR. We had coup d’etats, but this time is far worse! After 2 months they keep on plundering, shooting, killing and violence.
Rebels presence in this country caused every bad thing possible:
· The civil servants getaway
· The soldiers and law enforcement agency escape
· Schools and public offices closures
· Emerging criminals and thugs stealing, plundering and literally emptying out houses.
· Ethnical and religious tension
It’s hard to get around, both because rebels stole hundreds of cars (one is ours and one of Bouar’s community) and also because one fears to meet bad people,
Thefts and loots are everyday routine. In Bangui, a widow, mother of 4, saw the rebels coming. She already lost all in the 2003 plunders. They took away few furniture and the next day while she was away, they came back, stole everything, and occupied her place. The widow had to leave.
Sadly these stories have become everyday routine. Same thing happened to hospitals, schools, public offices, petrol stations, private citizen’s houses, churches and convents, ONG structures….schools are closed, teachers are gone, few left are scared they will become a target for lloting or worse.
Furthermore the state funds are empty. There was very little before the rebels arrived, but with the coup d’état the rebels took everything. Even the petrol stations, they sold petrol and gas. That was one of the most important incomes for the state. This means the civil servants won’t get paid.
In addition to all this there are other worrying facts:
· Chad and Sudan interference: majority if Rebels are foreigners, they don’t speak Sango (National language), they speak only Arab.
· The control over subsoil, especially gas fields. The first ministry is the petrol one.
· Complete absence of control over the rebels, last week one of them told me1 We are rebels, 2 we are at war and 3 this is Chad province
· Lack of development programs. The CAR, after 50 years from independence, has never built a school with state money
· Islam element – half ministries in the new government are Muslim. Most plunders and lootings happen to non-Muslim people, most particularly to the Catholics. This is all very worrying, considering we were going on quite well.
· The total interruption of any economical and commercial activities, and the perspective of investor’s getaway that got looted and threatened.
There’s a Psalm that often comes back to me, especially in these days of fear and tension “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11.3) during these months I often say to the people, especially the young ones “one needs to think!” if the country is in these conditions it’s also because problems were left unattended.
Facing 51.4% illiterates, overcrowded classrooms (often more than 100 students), with non-existing Justice, a self-centered political class, a welfare only interested in profit …. “what can the righteous do?"
It’s obvious that there’s an enormous need of training and education to be done, in all levels and point of views. This is why we do not leave the country, and we keep our schools open! This is why we shout! CAR is hardly known, almost no worldwide extent.
The most important news these past 2 weeks about CAR ….was the killing of 26 elephants. Which is important too, of course.
But we had more than 300 dead since the 24th of march, and rapes and wounded and looting…..CAR really risks of being abandoned to itself and to become hell on earth.
If we write, shout and make someone stop and listen….perhaps they can help do something!
Church, especially through the brave Archbishop of Bangui is one of the few rare voice that keeps on trying shake people conscience….we want to keep on talking and to work hard so that in future these things won’t happen!