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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Weird Christmas

After the French left....we are in a difficult situation...

Saturday 21st December 2013
This morning the French militaries left...nobody replaced them! And already this morning 2 Selekas threatened people with weapons, out of their home base and at 9 am I had to go see for a young guy who was arrested by them and brought at the colonel's place (he was actually ordered to leave there and join the others at the home base) the disarmament just began....I have no idea what will happen now. I fear violence and abuses will start again and the antibalakas will strike back. In the afternoon people started to come over to find shelter here. I tried to reassure them, but they are scared because a large number of Muslims are rearming. I took a stroll around and check the situation, everything looked quite ok, despite what they told me. I also went to a meeting of Antibalakas, very close to our village. I invited them to keep calm and move further away from here. The discussion went ok until somebody told us the Selekas left their base and they were going around armed. They immediately  flared up. I fear they won't keep calm for long and attack the village soon. People are scared, there's already 200 here at the Mission. The leaving of the French is a big problem, beginning the disarmament and not seeing it through is a very dangerous business. It was wiser not to even begin with such delicate operation. Will more soldiers arrive soon? How long will they stay? This is the second time the militaries are leaving us in deep troubles.

Sunday, 22nd December 2013
Relatively calm day today, perhaps because I'm sick with Malaria the afternoon,  despite the fever, I went to the prefect to a meeting with the Colonel. He came with another "colonel" wearing prada sandals. This time they had no machine gun, just one pistol. They are also worried, rumor of antibalakas attacking is spreading. The majority of Muslims and Peuls are armed....anything can happen. We decided to have another meeting with the neighborhoods representatives on the following day, but I fear it's going to be too late. What will happen tonight? And tomorrow?

Monday 23rd December 2013
Relatively quiet night, but people keep arriving here to find shelter. In the morning I went into town to see the Imam, and to offer him shelter for his people, at least for the women and children. At 10 Antibalakas and Selekas started to fight. Many came running, too many came too close. At 1 two Selekas came here, I told them to leave, there's only civilians here, they got mad, threatened me, then eventually left. 4 pm, we heard no shootings anymore and people began to 
Settle their few things back again in the hall, the classrooms and the patios of the Mission.what will happen tonight? And tomorrow?

Tuesday 24th December 2013
Morning went ok, people do still arrive, there's more than 2700 of them. At 1pm, an elicopter flew over us, after a wee bit, two more arrived. The French soldiers are here, gathering information, it's a quick meeting, in twenty minutes they are gone. Due to the circumstance we celebrated midnight mass at 4 pm, so many people came, and sang and danced. A joyful moment in such difficult times!
An ONU Mission passed by to see the situation, the next day they left without doing anything, because of the no safety area.

Wednesday 25th December 2013 - Christmas
Such a weird Christmas this year. 5.30am shooting woke us up, and lasted three hours! I helped the ONU mission to leave, and at 8.30 we decided to celebrate Mass, even though few people preferred to wait for the shooting to end. And then a small miracle, as we began to pray, the shooting stopped for the entire day! We gathered at 12.30 monks and nuns. There isn't much on the table for us to eat, but we managed to make few raviolis. To hell with the rebels! I was moved by receiving so many text messages and letters of wishes from so many Muslim friends: there is a small gap for love and hope!
I the afternoon the children were singing, traditional songs and many others. One in particular strikes me, it's a beautiful chorus "STOP SHOOTING! STOP KILLING!"
Here is some video of our Chrsitmas here in Bozoum:

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