People fearing for their lives in the Central African Republic (CAR) have taken refuge in churches.
According to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, around 1,000 people have fled their homes following violent clashes between armed groups in the last week.
A local journalist reported at least 22 people were killed in the latest attacks in the Zemio area (to the south-east of the country) – the same area in which churches are sheltering frightened locals.
Tearfund has a base in the capital Bangui and works alongside a church partner here. Staff member Mwaka Nasekwa Deogratias spoke with local pastor Daniel Aniwe who told him: ‘It’s frightening. They may stay in the church until they are sure all is now well in their village. Those whose houses were burned need shelter. Other needs include food, water, medicines and clothing, specifically for children and women. We hope to see peace and security restored as soon as possible.’
Violence in CAR which erupted three years ago has forced 503,600 people to flee their homes and move elsewhere inside the country – 100,000 of those were in the last few months alone.
Since 2014, nearly half a million people have been registered as refugees in neighbouring countries including Cameroon, DRC, Chad and Republic of Congo.
Of the fourteen armed groups in CAR, thirteen signed a peace deal last month (19 June) calling for a ceasefire. Yet, the violence continues.
Tearfund is continuing to work in CAR – one of the poorest countries in the world, where 40% of the population are dependent on humanitarian aid. We are working in the Boda area to help people meet basic needs by improving access to clean water in the camps set up for displaced people, building water pumps and training people to fix them. We are also providing food, seeds and tools so those who have fled and lost everything can start to rebuild their lives.
Promoting peace and social cohesion is also crucial to our work. We’ve organised football tournaments and drama sketches to facilitate different communities coming together and building relationships.
Pray for peace and security to be restored in the whole country, and that this conflict will end without expanding into other regions.
Pray for the provision of resources to support those most in need.
Pray for the church in CAR to be ‘salt and light’, and for people to find both physical and spiritual refuge.