Another attack on a Church refugee camp in Central African Republic

Cardinal Nzapalainga visited the sight of the first massacre

Another displaced persons camp run by the local Church in Ippy southeast Central African Republic, was attacked on December 4, by men of the UPC (Unité pour la Paixen Centrafrique) led by Ali Darassa, the same group responsible for the massacre perpetrated  three weeks before, on November 15, in Alindao, which left 60 people dead, including two priests.

According to a report by Fides News Agency, this second attack started at about 10am, In Ippy, some 100 km from Bambari. Displaced men, women and children gathered for safety around the church of Saint Xavier, were forced to seek shelter in the bush under fire by UPC combatants.

“The UN peacekeepers are present but do nothing to stop the aggressors from committing abuses,” said the angry local source. The president of the peace committee in the town of Ippy, Fr. Roger Stanislas Djamawa, denounced that the Central Africans were left to their plight. At present the number of the victims is not known. According to a local source, three people among them two children were seriously injured.

In the meantime, Cardinal Diedonne Nzapalainga, after visiting the site of the first massacre asked if besides the 60 persons killed, how many more have been killed in the undergrownd?

Among those killed by the fighters also two priests, the Vicar general of the diocese Alindao, Mons. Blaise Mada, and Rev. Celestine Ngoumbango, parish priest at Mingala.

Speaking to the French daily Le Monde, Cardinal Nzapalainga said the displaced persons sheltering in the Alindao camp destroyed in the attack, fled for safety to Ndakoto “a village of only 15 homes, 7 km away. The villagers were not able to provide shelter for 26,000 people. After a week people were dying of starvation. On November 23 the World Food Programme sent four trucks. You should have seen how the people threw themselves on the food. In the first few days, I saw people scratching the ground for a grain of rice.”

Regarding the reasons for the massacre, Cardinal Nzapalainga said he had the impression “that it was the start of a war for positioning. In the talks with the armed groups those with the most men will have the control of a higher number of areas and therefore be able to ask for ministries, money and more.  The attack in Alindao was planned, organized. I think these are moves to take a position in view of dialogue with the state and the international community”.

Cardinal Nzapalainga confirmed what the Bishop of Bangassou Mons. Juan Jose Aguirre Muños had previously told Fides about the presence of foreign mercenaries among the perpetrators of the massacre. “The Bishop of Alindao said that in the most recent group of aggressors there were men who did not speak Sango, the official language, or French. This means they are mercenaries who come to steal diamonds, gold or livestock, anything that can be sacked”. “We have become the soft belly of the region and I fear we will end up being its garbage dump,” he said. Nevertheless, Cardinal Nzapalainga underlines “even though others pull the strings it is always up to us Central Africans to find a solution. But once the solutions are accepted – he warns –the decisions made must be applied”.