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Monday, March 24, 2014

Problems and solution attempts

Monday the 17th of March
Since few days some young guys from the city who call themselves Antibalakas (although they never fought against Selekas) are in turmoil. They asked the Mediation Committee to place bars in and out of Bozoum. The Committee (including the Prefect General Secretary, the Mayor, the Priest, the Vicar, the President of Wali-GAla (women traders), all representatives of Misca, CAritas, Justice & Peace, MSF and Red Cross) has refused their request. But they went and placed them anyway, then used the excuse of MSF leaving Bozoum and took it on the hospital personnel, accusing them to force MSF to leave. Despite the Mediation Committee and MSF representative pointed out that their departure had been previously scheduled and they were needed elsewhere (Bocaranga, Ngaudaye and Bang) these self-called Antibalakas didn't stop their complaint and kept on threatening the hospital staff. I believe it's important not to forget these people at the Bozoum hospital have been working throughout the whole crisis, under continuous menace by the Selekas, the Peuls, Muslims and now the Antibalakas. Even during combats they ensured their presence and activity, they took in the sick despite threats (In January the Selekas even shot in the hospital grounds)
This morning the young guys in question occupied the hospital and kidnapped Mrs.Koikouma Marie Renée, she's the nurse in charge of the medical interim.
they came in with rifles and canes,threatened her life and promised to hurt the staff. Thanks to the MISCA intervention the guys left. They did manage to steal one door and shut down the hospital water pump which serve the sick and the residents.
Of course the hospital has been closed and the sick are now left to themselves. 
The Mediation Commitee invited this morning for their daily 8 am meeting all neighbourhoods' representatives who came in number. Goal of this meeting was to involve the whole community and especially these representatives, in order to ensure their effective reaction to violence and extorsions caused by these guys 
Every representative made a list of everything that's going on in their hood and we all decided to:
  • have a meeting in every neighbourhood to highlight every issue, especially those related to theft, weapons and drugs
  • have a Monday meetings with all representatives and the Mediation Commitee
  • elect a group of wise men to act and regulate conflicts and avoid that these selfcalled Antibalakas can be autoregulated
  • write an official document to the Governon and highlight this issue, the necessity of a new Prefect, and to have more police and armed forces from the Authority
  • open a call center for immediate assistance

Tuesday 18th of March 2014
I went to Bocaranga to purchase and distribute peanut oil in the surronding areas. I left at 6.15 am, and i stopped at the MISCA after the shooting of last night.
The situation seemed under control, however the guys i mentioned above shot MISCAs at 11 pm last night, thankfully nobody got hurt.
After 85 km I saw few people on the street with stuff all around.  Evidently they were Peuls who had been under attack. Only later we were positive: some Peuls, who were passing by with some 100 or 200 of their livestock had been attacked and their animal scattered or destroyed. Antibalakas did this.
I realized I saw many people on the way carrying meat and many cooking it.
All around this country  animals are being killed rather than being used as future investment. People wouuld rather kill and eat instead of thinking of tomorrow. In few months time, it will be really hard to find meat. Furthermore we must remember most of animals belong to the Chadians....

On my way back, I stopped also in Kake, 30 km from Bocaranga because i saw many Peuls there. Mostly there were women and children, who escaped here after the attacks of last Sunday and they did find some protection here. They're very tired and unhealthy, I tried my best to comfort them and asked the locals to bring them to a safe place and get them water. Once i got home i immediately advised MSF and the Bocaranga Mission so they will make sure these people will be looked after....
Wednesday 19th of March 2014
I went to Baoro with Father Norberto to a meeting with other Carmelitans from Bouar, Baoro and Bangui. It has been a year since we all gathered, it was a great joy to see each other again!

Thursday 20th of March 2014
Meeting at 8 am. Today it seems less tense, the hospital has been resuming its activities and yesterday some of the guys from last week offered their apologies....

Riunione con i capi quartiere
Réunion avec les chefs de quartier

il luogo del combattimento, dove gli antibalaka hanno attaccato i Peuls, che hanno abbandonato tutto quello che avevano
Scène de bataille: ici les Peuls, , attaqués par les antibalaka, ont tout abandonné...

Fiori di frangipane
Fleurs de Frangipanier

un vitello, appena nato e già rubato...
un petit veau, qui vient de naitre, et d'etre volé...

La concelebrazione della Messa a Baoro
la concélébration de la Messe à Baoro

Marie Renée, l'infermiera minacciata dagli antibalaka
Marie Renée, le major menacé par les antibalaka

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sunny and Clody spells

Our situation remains fragile. In Bangui, our capital there are moments of quiet alternating moments of violences and shootings.
Here in Bozoum, after few weeks of calm, few antibalakas are taking over the city now, they reistated the bariers on the way in and out Bozoum. On Friday as I was getting out of my car I asked one of them how old he was (he's not 15) An older guy, a "chief" came towards me saying not to say anything to me!!! I began laughing and I asked him if he as afraid....
I was in Bouar Friday and Saturday, for a Meeting with CAritas, 250 km with no problems.
In Bouar at Yole, I met the great Enrico Massone who, despite the war and stuff, as every year came to help us out. He's currently working on the Yole Road and completing a bridge. It's great work, thanks also to the Siriri Association help, from Czeck Republic
On my way back i stopped in Baoro, were few Peuls remain at the parish, some of them have been wounded by the Antibalakas.
In Bossentele i found the village in turmoil. they have been attacked by Peuls, Muslims and Selekas, they have wunded people and burned houses....

Peace seems yet faraway....

Enrico Massone

Sunday, March 9, 2014

During the dry season, we are not without blossoms...

Salendo sul Binon il mercoledì delle Ceneri
En montant sur le Bino, le mrecredi des Cendres

Time is quickly passing by, and here we are in Lent! On wednesday we began with visiting the Binon, which is a hill upon Bozoum. There's a statue of Jesus, with his arms open who is protecting and blessing the city. and here, under his arms we gathered to celebrate Mass, where we received the Ashes:symbol of a conversion that we all need. All of us. Especially here in CAR, during  this crisis. We must ask ourselves which are the profound reasons of all this hatred and tension and begin a change of heart. There are thousands of houses to rebuild, but it's definitely more urgent to rebuild our hearts and minds...and to do it we need an infinite courage, That only God can give us. Him, who had no fear to  take on temptations and win.
On Thursday evening few cars arrived: it was the Archbishop of Bangui, Mons. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Imam and a Protestant. They came as Mediation Platform representing all religious creeds, visiting Bozoum and to see how and if it will be possible to reach some tranquility, to restrain damages and reopen the schools.
On Friday morning they all attending our 8 am meeting, in which we evaluate the situation each day and try to make the best decision accordingly in order to keep peace in the city. The Archbishop thanked for this and the Platform encouraged us to keep up the good work.
Along with them also came few journalists from Famille Chretienne, AFP and BBC. We went together to witness another small miracle in Tatale, 50 km far from here the population took in and protected 650 Mbororo, Muslims breeders.
Even if there's the dry season there certainly are some flowers blossoming....

la Messa sul Bino, con Bozoum sullo sfondo
La Messe sur le Binon, avec Bozoum à nos pieds

Un antibalaka a Tatale

Mamma e bimbo, Peul, a Tatale
Maman et enfants Peuls à Tatale

Il Mercato di Bozoum
Le marché de Bozoum

La riunione delle 8, con l'Arcivescovo, l'Imam e il Pastore
la réunion de 8h, avec Archéveque, Imam et Pasteur

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2 white roses

2 white roses
It has been tre months since I went to Bouar, where the dioceses and other Carmelitan's communities are located. I finally went on Monday with abbé Mirek, the vicar, who was visiting.
On our way we came across a big trucks convoy going to Bangui: transportation is still dangerous, they were escorted by MISCA
In Baoro I finally met father Dieudonne, father Daniel and the nuns. Since last month they have been hosting 3700 people, 1700 of which were Muslims. Just few days ago they set off to Cameroon, the rest f the people came back home... However what home? Selekas burned more than 1300 houses these past weeks!
In Bouar I was leased to see the fathers and the sisters, brave missionaries who stayed, despite everything! On Tuesday afternoon we had caritas meeting, to assess the situation and decide what to do next. It strikes me how any religious homes and parishes are open to help refugees without any discrimination between Christians or Muslims! These people, laics, monks, nuns, of different ages and countless countries (car, Cameroon, Chad, Madagascar, India, Uruguay, Italy, France, Poland, Czech Republic) caritas international!
Last week, father Emilio Martinez, the vicar of the Carmelitan's family, was here. And he had a wonderful idea. He brought two roses to Pope Francis, as a symbol of all the work done here by the missionaries. Here's what he also wrote:
I was able to give these two white roses to Pope Francis during the hearing on Wednesday. I told Hume these roses were from Car, from the missionaries and their refugees
I wish I could describe my feeling when he told his assistant “Esto me lo sube arriba, a mi despacho”, which means "bring this into my office ”.
Your faces, your lives,  as well as the nuns and friends, each and everyone of the refugees especially the children...I carried all of this in my heart, after my visit and gave it to Pope Francis and I felt I've been your messenger and carrier of such treasure, thanks to The Lord!
Please do send this message to all brothers and sisters: the pope is with you and you are with him! Thank you all for everything, your smaller brother, Emilio.
On Wednesday I went to the North with couple of journalists from the associated press.
We passed by Bohong, where it finally seems possible co-existing of Muslims and non-Muslims, after months of fighting. Along the way we saw many of the villages burnt by Selekas, and almost all chapels have bullets in their walls, their holes are clearly visible!
I saw the capuchins in Ngaundaye, they are reorganizing for reconstructions. I also drove Father Francesco down to his farm (it's 3 km fR from here and Selekas stole his car so he must walk and he's not as young anymore!) I was able to see hundreds of small plants and mangos sprouts.
And today I saw the primary schools kids all excited because it's quarter end and they'll get their reports soon. Seems little, but it's actually a big step, especially now....

rifugiati alla Misisone di Baoro
réfugiés à la Mision de Baoro

convoglio di camions provenienti dal Cameroun e diretti a Bangui
le convoi provenant du Cameroun, destinés à Bangui

Fra Francesco con i suoi manghi innesati
frère Francesco, avec ses mangues greffés