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PRESS RELEASE : Iraq – A delegation from ACN on the way to Iraq

12.08.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, Iraq, Persecution of Christians

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Click on the image or call 514 932 0552 ext. 226

Robert Lalonde, AED Canada

Johannes von Heereman

Montreal, Tuesday, August 12 2014 – A delegation from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will leave shortly to Erbil, in the north of Iraq, as a sign of solidarity with the numerous Christians who fled the most recent attacks in Qaraqosh – the Christian capital of Iraq – and in the Nineveh plain.

This delegation formed by the International Executive President, Johannes von Heeremann, the Director of Projects, Regina Lynch and the Assistant Director of Communications, Maria Lozano, will be there as the Prefect for the Congregation for the Evangelization of the People, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, named on August 8 by the Holy Father will visit Iraq as a gesture of solidarity towards Iraqi Christians.

ANKAWA-7As the Church is extremely busy managing the daily needs of the population, it is difficult to give detailed information to ACN, this trip will be the occasion to witness the actual situation of Iraqi Christians and to see how the money already sent was used.  Once we have this information, we will be able to decide on new projects which will, can then be rapidly put in place to relieve the populations in distress.  All benefactors and people of good will be able to generously contribute to these new projects having at hand all the proper information by phone at 514 932 0552, extension 226 or by following this link.  It is also possible to visit our blog to follow closely the situation.

In CanadaMarie-Claude

During that time, on Thursday, the National Director of ACN in Canada, Marie-Claude Lalonde, will attend a press conference at the Diocesan office in Quebec City, 1073 René-Lévesque Blvd. West at 1:30 pm.  “We are facing a humanitarian crisis which risks being a long one.  It is of the utmost importance that we take all the necessary means not only to support but also to accompany our brothers and sisters who are going through terrible times.  They must not feel abandoned by us.”

The Director also announces that a special campaign for Iraq will be launched in September.  “We have just prepared an information brochure which will be sent out on September 1st to all our benefactors and we will be very active in the coming days on social networks and on our blog with exclusive information from our international delegation that will be present in Iraq.  I wish to emphasize that we are getting prepared for a long term humanitarian crisis”, concluded Marie-Claude Lalonde.

To this day, ACN has already sent $300,000 to Iraq making this organization one of the biggest donors helping during this humanitarian crisis.

 

IRAQ – THE ALARMING SITUATION OF THE REFUGEES WARNS A DISASTER MORE DREADFUL

11.08.2014 in ACN Canada, Aid to refugees, Emergency Aid, Iraq, Persecution of Christians, Refugees

Yesterday, in a statement yesterday, Sunday, August 10, the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Mgr Louis Sako Raphael, took stock of the dire situation currently found Iraqi refugees. We offer this statement in its entirety.

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Death and sickness are grabbing the children and elderly people among the thousands of refugee families spread over the Kurdistan Region who lost everything in the recent tragic developments while the ISIS Militants are still advancing and the humanitarian aid is insufficient.

There are 70 000 displaced Christians in Ankawa along with the other minorities in this city that has a population of more than twenty-five thousand Christians. The families who found shelter inside the churches or schools are in a rather good condition while those who are still sleeping in the streets and public parks are in a deplorable situation…

In Dohuk, the number of Christian refugees’ amount to more than 60 000 and their situation is worse than those in Erbil. There are also families who found shelters in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, as well as some have arrived as far as in the capital city of Baghdad.

While the humanitarian needs are escalating: housing, food, water, medicine and funds, the lack of international coordination is slowing and limiting the realization of an effective assistance to these thousands awaiting immediate support. The Churches are offering everything within their capacity.

To summarize the situation of the Christian villages around Mosul up to the borders of Kurdistan Region: the churches are deserted and desecrated; five bishops are out of their bishoprics, the priests and nuns left their missions and institutions leaving everything behind, the families have fled with their children abandoning everything else! The level of disaster is extreme.

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The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. The confirmation that this terrible situation will continue until the Iraqi Security Forces will fight along with Peshmerga against the ISIS militants is very depressing. The President of the Kurdistan Region said that the Kurdish troops are fighting with a terrorist State and not minor groups! While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power.

At the end, perhaps, Mosul will not be liberated neither the villages in the Nineveh Plain. There is no strategy to dry up the sources of manpower and the resources of these Islamic terrorists. They control the oil town of Zumar and the oil fields of Ain Zalah and Batma along with the oil fields of Al-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The Islamic extremist fighters are joining them from different countries around the world.

The choices of refugee families

Migration: where and do they have the necessary documents and money?

To stay: in the halls and in the refugee camps, waiting the summer to end and winter to come? Will the schools be reopened and will their children go to elementary schools, high schools or colleges? Will they be welcomed in the schools in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah? What is the future of the properties and belongings, along with the jobs, of these thousands of innocent people forced to fee overnight from their dear villages?

These are questions that should inflict pain in the conscience of every person and organization so that something should be done to save this people that have their history in this land from their beginnings.

+Louis Raphael SakoIRAK-1

Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon

President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq

Baghdad – Iraq

10August 2014

 

PRESS RELEASE: Aid to the Church in Need – Invitation to the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Iraq

31.07.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, Iraq, Pope Francis, Prayer, Refugees

Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget GriffinIRAK-1

Montreal, Thursday, July 31, 2014 – The international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” is inviting people from the whole world to take part in a Day of Prayer for Peace in Iraq, which is scheduled for 6 August, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

Together with the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako the charity is using this occasion to call on “all people of good will” to “combine our voices and our hearts before the Lord in order to ask for peace,” Patriarch Sako writes in his message for the World Day of Prayer.

To join together with our suffering brothers and sisters

Johannes von HeeremanThe source of inspiration for this initiative had been the call of the Holy Father to stop the violence in Iraq, Johannes von Heeremann, the International President of “Aid to the Church in Need”, explained:   “Last Sunday at the Angelus, Pope Francis called out to all mankind ‘Please stop! I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please!’ This urgent appeal prompted us to invite not only Christians, but also the faithful of other religions, and in particular various Muslim communities, who are also suffering very much from the war, to join in a prayer for peace which encompasses the whole world. In view of such suffering as we are forced to watch in Iraq today, it is time to join together with our suffering brothers and sisters and to show the world that we have not abandoned them.”

Patriarch Sako, who has also formulated the prayer for this initiative, wrote in his message: “The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord is a feast of the transformation of hearts and minds in the encounter with the light and love of God for mankind. May the Light of Tabor, through our proximity, fill the hearts of all those suffering with comfort and hope. May the message of Tabor working through our prayers move those governing this country to sacrifice their personal interests for the general good.”

Please take note that ACN is currently working on a way to send material assistance to Iraqi refugees.

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If you want to make a donation, please call 514 932 0552 ext. 221 or follow this link:

PRESS RELEASE: Gaza – Church in Jordan takes in Gaza refugees

28.07.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Aid to refugees, Holy Land, Palestine

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Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

Montreal, Monday, July 28th, 2014 – The Catholic Church in Jordan had taken in Muslim and Christian refugees from Gaza. Father Khalil Jaar from Amman informed the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) of this on Friday. “On Sunday we took in 87 people from Gaza in Amman, including 39 children. Thanks to the support of the United Nations they were able to enter Israel from Gaza at the Erez border crossing. The Spanish consul in Jerusalem then brought them to the Jordanian border,” said this priest of the Latin Patriarchate.

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“The injured are now receiving medical treatment. We have housed the rest in boarding houses,” Jaar continued. “We would like to take in more people from Gaza but all accommodation is fully booked in Amman because of the festival of Ramadan. And so we have to wait a little.” Jaar expects about 32 additional people.

“The children have seen bombing victims”

“The children are particularly badly traumatized. They have experienced terrible things in Gaza. We are paying special attention to them; people from the parish play with them to provide them with some diversion. They are completely traumatized by the bombing. Even if you are not directly affected, you’re bound to feel the impact of the bombs intensely in such as small area as Gaza,” Jaar said. “Many of the children report that their houses or those of their neighbours were destroyed. Many saw bombing victims in the rubble. Many of the little ones are afraid of staying in enclosed spaces because they think a bomb could hit them there.”

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The United Nations claims that in the Gaza conflict more than 700 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli raids, including at least 160 children. Father Jaar is already supporting about 120 Syrian and 320 Iraqi refugee families in his parish. ACN is helping him with his work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

“My diocese no longer exists”

07.07.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Interview, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, Iraq

The advance of the ISIS warriors has left thousands of Iraqi Christians homeless – The Catholic Church is helping Christians and Muslims

By Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

Archbishop Amel Nona © ACN/AED

Archbishop Amel Nona
© ACN

“Ahlan wa sahlan. Welcome,” is Archbishop Amel Nona’s friendly greeting to an anxious looking veiled woman who enters his office. He offers her a seat. “She has just come here to Tilkef from Mosul on foot with one of her sons seeking safety,” says the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, translating the agitated words of the Muslim woman. “There have been skirmishes between the government and the Sunni rebels. That’s why she fled.”

There are only three kilometres between Mosul and the Christian town of Tilkef. But they are now worlds apart since the Islamists conquered the town. “We welcome everybody here, be they Christian or Muslim,” Nona says. “This is what our faith teaches us: to help everyone regardless of religion. God loves everyone. That’s why we should help all.” In fact the Church has opened its schools, kindergartens and community rooms not only to Christians, but also to Muslim families. In Alqosh, a Christian town about 20 kilometres from Mosul, they have taken in 150 Muslim families in addition to 500 Christian ones. In Tilkef more than 700 refugee families have been taken in, including Muslims. The town is bursting at the seams. Refugees have even been accommodated in a print shop for liturgical literature, like Habib’s family of five. “We left everything behind in Mosul. We were able to salvage the clothes we are wearing, documents and a few bags from Mosul. That’s all that’s left. I don’t know whether we will ever be able to go back there,” the Chaldean Catholic explains. He shrugs his shoulder. “And I don’t know what the future will bring.”

Archbishop Nona knows what the people are going through. He has become a refugee himself. When the jihadist terrorists of ISIS took over Mosul three weeks ago he and about 5000 Christians fled from Iraq’s second largest town. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have also attempted to find protection from the cruel holy warriors. Their number is estimated at about 450,000. Most of them have found refuge in the autonomous Kurdish areas. “My diocese no longer exists. ISIS has taken it from me,” the Archbishop says.

At the present time, according to Nona, three quarters of the approximately 10,000 members of his diocese are on the run. “I don’t know whether they will ever be able to return to Mosul.” The mood of the people is correspondingly sombre. “There is no room for us Christians in the Middle East,” says one woman who also fled from Mosul with her four children. “Where are they supposed to go now? There’s nothing keeping us in Iraq any more. First the 2003 war, then the subsequent confusion when we Christians became the target of fanatics, and, now this. We want to get to the west as soon as possible.” But she has no illusions. “I know from relatives that it isn’t easy to start a new life there. But at least it’s safe. I don’t want my children to grow up in fear.”

The bishops are quite clear about what their flock think. At the synod which ended last week they sought desperately for answers to the crisis sparked by the advance of ISIS. “It’s not only the present refugee crisis,” Archbishop Nona says. “The problem is that because of the advance of ISIS and the tensions between Sunnis and Shiites all Christians feel unsafe in Iraq. They have lost their faith in a future here.”

© ACN/AED

© ACN/AED

 

However the bloodshed suffered by Iraqi Christianity, a movement going back to the Apostle Thomas, is not new. Archbishop Nona reckons that more than 25,000 Chaldeans were living in Mosul alone prior to 2003, when the Americans came to topple Saddam Hussein. Before the current exodus this figure was just 5000. In all, Iraqi Christianity has lost about two thirds of its previously 1.2 million adherents in ten years to the region and foreign countries in the west.

The bishops are now placing their hope in Kurdistan. This autonomous zone in the north of Iraq has for years become a refuge for Christians from turbulent parts of the country such as Mosul and Baghdad. It is here, the bishops believe, that they could find a new home.

“Aid to the Church in Need” has granted $146,000 emergency aid for refugees from Mosul.


 

 

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333 or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

PRESS RELEASE : Syria – “The suffering of the people will become even greater”

07.05.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Lebanon, Syria

Aid to the Church in Need grants a further 622 000 dollars in emergency relief to war victims and refugees

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AED International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal, Wednesday May 7th, 2014 – The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has granted a further 425 000 dollarsemergency relief for war victims in Syria. This will help in particular refugees and distressed Christian families in Homs, Aleppo and the “Valley of Christians”.  In addition it has been resolved to donate a further 197 000 dollars for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The Head of the Middle East Section at ACN, Father Andrzej Halemba, fears that the situation in Syria will continue to deteriorate and that the war atrocities will increase. “The suffering of the people in Syria, and especially of the Christians, will become even greater,” he said, adding that a lot more aid would be necessary.

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About 140,000 people have lost their lives in the war. There are now more than 9 million Syrians on the run, of which 2 million are fleeing abroad and 7 million are still in the country. Several million dwellings have been destroyed in the war, as have thousands of businesses and companies, and also fields which provided many people with the means of subsistence.

Since the start of the war in March 2011 ACN has granted aid of around 5,3 millions dollarsin Syria and for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. Since January 2014 a total of 961 000 dollars in emergency relief has been granted for war victims and refugees from Syria.

 

CENTRAL – AFRICA: HISTORY OF A CONFLICT (VI)

10.02.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Aid to refugees, Catholic priests, Catholic Religious Brothers, Central Africa, Central African Republic, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Uncategorized

 For the final word in this series of five articles on Central Africa, we give you the words of Father Federico who will speak to us about an extraordinary man: Father Anastasio Roggero.

 


 Father Anastasio: the Soul of Carmel de Bangui

 Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Translated and adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

 “Father Anastasio is the founder and the soul of this paradise that is the Carmel of Bangui.  He is more than twice my age and has triple the enthusiasm.  Since 1998, he has been living in our convent in Prague, but since 1975 his heart has been in the Central African Republic.  This gentle and smiling brother, always equipped with his camera, travels the world at a hundred kilometers an hour, from India to the United States, speaking well (this in 8 different languages) of we missionaries; it sounds just to me that at least once, a missionary should speak well of him.

© ACN/AED

© ACN/AED

Without him and his animated and tireless missionary spirit, our missions would not be what they are; and that which everyone seems to envy us for. In order to better devote himself to his mission, which he does with a very unique sense of zeal, he would like days made up of 36 hours.  Father Anastasio, who is gifted with an incredible memory, worked over many years as a Church history professor.  His great memory allowed him to collect the faces, images, stories and friendships of thousands of benefactors the world over. And it must be said that when he first began his work, he didn’t have an address, or any money to take him to Africa.

 

His three great loves 

For those who do not know, it was he who invented the celebrated lavender of the Arenzano brothers which perfumes the world.  Father Anastasio has three loves:  The Child Jesus (preferably the one in Prague or in Arenzano), the poor of Central Africa (if you give him a dollar, you can be sure he will give it to them) and Tecktonas [teak] (sure he has planted as many as there are inhabitants in Central-Africa).

At the end of the 90s, he bought a forested area in a suburb close to the capital of the Central African Republic with the intention of founding a convent for Carmelites. Unfortunately, the Sisters did not come.  Father Anastasio transformed the grounds into a garden with an immense plantation of palm trees and a luxurious nursery of teaks and other plants while saying: “We can produce oil in little time; the teaks will be useful in 40 years.”

Later, more precisely in 2006, Brothers settled there and changed the convent into a building which would then become an oil mill.  This is how it came to be in the capital that a long awaited, for many reasons, and steady presence of Carmelites remained.  Since then, Father Anastasio visits Carmel almost every three months to encourage their work and to manage the growth of the Tecktonas.

 

Some teaks later 

When he is with us, our breaks are animated with stories of his voyages and brightened by excellent chocolate which is never missing from his suitcases. I was certain that he would come as scheduled, despite recent events and the unstable environment which has overtaken the country.  He arrived a few days ago by passage through Morocco.

Before his arrival, I confided in him, a little preoccupied, that our dear refugees had used the teaks and palm tree branches to build hundreds of little huts around the convent.  But barely arrived, he greeted me and before I could say a thing, he reassured me:  “Do not worry dear father prior! You, you are young.  But I, I know war because I saw it as a child.  I thought that the teaks would be useful in forty years, when I would no longer be; but they are already useful and I was able to see!  I am going to run and take some pictures!’

© ACN/AED

© ACN/AED

This is how Father Anastasio is.  Though he has never been a missionary in the strict sense of the word, it would be hard to come by someone who loves Africa the way he does.”

 And Father Federico concludes his letter by writing: “These last few days, we have received numerous messages of gratitude from the entire world and especially from Brothers and Sisters of our order.  This popularity surprised us a little.  Do we deserve all these compliments?  I must say that we are not even aware of having done something extraordinary.  If you were in my place, you would have done the same thing.  Moreover, know that there are places living in similar situations to ours with even greater numbers of refugees.”

We leave it up to you to decide!


 

To make a donation by  please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333  or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

 

 

 

CENTRAL – AFRICA: HISTORY OF A CONFLICT (III)

05.02.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PRESS, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Aid to refugees, Central Africa, Central African Republic, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need

 

If the lines that you are reading are often stained with suffering, you will also see that they contain love stories which allow for transcendence. You will encounter men and women capable of acts of such beauty and of such solicitude, that you will recognize in them, propagators of hope which help us believe that life – is more powerful than death.

 


 

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© ACN

 

How far can the suffering go?” 

 

Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Joy broke out and the people danced in the streets when the news of the resignation of interim president Djotodia was announced on January 10. Just two weeks later, the Séléka ex-rebels withdrew from Bouar. “They were armed to the teeth, and they set off in a convoy in the direction of Chad,” reports Father Beniamino Gusmeroli after the days of fear and severe unrest. But the initial joy did not last long: on the same day, the retreating rebels entered Bocaranga with 31 vehicles. There they attacked the mission station of the Capuchins, where some 2,500 refugees were sheltering at that time.

120 spent cartridge cases were found in the house

 © ACN/AED


© ACN/AED

“It was an apocalyptic day,” Polish Capuchin priest Robert Wnuk describes what happened. “Shooting and detonations could be heard everywhere. There were numerous groups of 10-15 rebels each. They forced their way into all the rooms. The refugee women were sitting there on the floor with their children.  The rebels threatened the priests and also fired on the church,” Father Robert reports. “They fired and fired and fired as if they were crazy.”

The bullets left large holes in the walls and floors and later, 120 spent cartridge cases were found in the house. A woman and a man had died, and one of the friars was wounded. A doctor was struck in the face, and a bullet narrowly missed his head.  The rebels stole all the cars and took money, computers, telephones and cameras.  Then they moved on to the Sisters’ convent where the same scenario was repeated. Ngaoundaye Ngaoundaye Ngaoundaye On the same day, rebels also attacked the mission in Ngaoundaye, where they took a locally-born friar hostage, but later released him. The following day they looted the Capuchins’ mission station in Ndim.

Father Robert cannot believe what took place in his mission station amidst the many helpless refugees: “These are war crimes, crimes against humanity! Crimes against defenceless women and children! The perpetrators are now in Chad, which although it has closed its borders evidently lets armed criminals enter the country in cars that they stole from the missions and aid organizations.”Ngaoundaye Ngaounda

 

And in his desperation and disappointment he asks himself questions. “Protective troops have been in the country for some months. But in reality they are only in Bangui. They supposedly came to protect the civilian population. For many days we have asked the military authorities in Bangui and Bouar for help, but we always get the same answer: ‘Let’s see, we’ll see what happens, we have made a note of it…’ They give replies like this during a military intervention? They ask us on the telephone for information about the situation on the ground, and then nobody responds. Nobody! How far can the suffering go?” 

 A climate full with hate and violence explodes

Meanwhile, the Séléka have also withdrawn from Bozoum. Even shortly beforehand, the rebels had burned down 1,300 houses in the close vicinity, making 6,000 people homeless. In the now empty Séléka barracks there are slogans on the wall such as: “This is the law of Hell,” signed by somebody calling himself, “The Devil Incarnate.”

“The UNO decision in favour of a military intervention came too late,” criticizes Father Aurelio Gazzera who has been working in the Central African Republic for twenty years. “The eight-month reign of terror by the Séléka has created a climate of hatred and vengeance which has exploded into mad and demonic rage that is directed against everybody: against the Muslims, many of whom had profited from the Séléka and let themselves be protected by the rebels to avenge themselves, and the rest of the population, who are often seen by the Muslims as accomplices of the Anti-Balaka.”

The Italian Carmelite priest explains that to present the Anti-Balaka as “Christian militia,” as is often done is a mistake. “There is not much about them that is Christian,” he explains. “They carry fetishes and amulets for protection, and they are full of anger after having to endure long months of assaults and violence. An explosion of madness has taken place. There are arbitrary killings; disabled people are left behind, and so on. We need a strong military presence in the whole district to stop the crazy murders!”

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The missionary, who conducts peace negotiations with all population groups in Bozoum, reports that the discussions have been made more difficult by the fact that many supporters of the Anti-Balaka have drunk a lot of alcohol and thus become unpredictable. In many places the Church is now also protecting the Muslims who are living in fear of vengeance. Thus for example, Father Aurelio is providing the Muslim refugees with drinking water and rice at his own expense, and attempting to prevent the Anti-Balaka from massacring the Muslims, and at least sparing the women and children.

During the Séléka’s withdrawal, Father Aurelio Gazzera himself was almost killed when several outraged Muslims attacked him with stones and weapons. But a Séléka rebel and another Muslim protected him and saved his life. Meanwhile, in the city of Bozoum, rumours were spreading that the priest was dead. When he reached his mission in the evening in his smashed-up car, the people cried for joy. “They spread their clothes in front of my car, and greeted me almost as if I were the Messiah. It was unbelievable. We gave thanks by saying an Ave Maria – also for those who commit evil.” 

Many more prayers will still be required for those who commit evil. In Bossemptélé, where 80 people were killed this week and the Séléka even looted the hospital of the Camillian Fathers, the Anti-Balaka has meanwhile demanded ransom money from the Carmelite Sisters. The Sisters have been told that if they fail to pay it within two days they must hand over the Muslim civilians who have sought shelter in the mission. Otherwise the members of the Anti-Balaka themselves will force their way into the convent premises and kill the Muslims.

The violence spirals faster and faster. And a humanitarian disaster looms, because the situation in the country is resulting in many more malnourished children .

ACN-20140130-04723And yet, there are hopeful moments: “In Bozoum the children are now able to go back to school again,” says Father Aurelio happily. And there are also small miracles: A catechist had fixed a rosary to a door lock. The rebels didn’t dare to break the door open during their looting debauchery. But the greatest miracle is the courage with which, day by day, Catholic priests and members of religious orders set their own lives against the whirlpool of violence. They try to save what can be saved.

“Ciao, now I must go to the refugees,” says Father Beniamino Gusmeroli. Because for the missionaries, their brave service is the most normal thing in the world.

Coming up:

And yet, at the heart of this drama, lives an event whose love story is worthy of being told around the entire world so as to give hope.  An even where union reigns within disorder, where the celebration of Mass echoes the sound of gunfire; where the faithful sing so loud that the sounds of rebellion fall into the depths of the Word; and where love gives birth, showing that it is more powerful than is war.

 Chronicle of a love story

© ACN/AED

CENTRAL-AFRICA: HISTORY OF A CONFLICT ( Part II )

04.02.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Aid to refugees, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Pope Francis

Given the dramatic situation known to Central-Africa for more than a year now, and by way of solidarity with its populace, we are continuing today with a series of articles which will enable you to accompany the people of this country, currently at the heart of an unspeakable conflict: a war which recalls the extreme violence of a certain Rwandese genocide, one which we underscore this year with the sad 20th anniversary of the tragedy.  How can this tragedy be forgotten?  And nonetheless…

If the lines that you are reading are often stained with suffering, you will also see that they contain love stories which allow for transcendence. You will encounter men and women capable of acts of such beauty and of such solicitude, that you will recognize in them, propagators of hope which help us believe that life – is more powerful than death.


 

THE CONFLICT’S EVOLUTION

Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

August and September 2013, following a short, apparent lull in the situation where, in July, the attacks by the Séléka took on a still more violent character. Numerous villages – mainly those in the north-west of the country – were burned down, and followed by numerous massacres. At the present time there are over 400,000 people who have fled or been uprooted, representing close to 10% of the population. On September 13, 2013 President Djotodia officially dissolved the Séléka Rebel Forces, though it had no practical effect. The violent attacks continued, and the promised disarming of the rebels, remained only on paper.

Since September there have been an increased number of skirmishes between the Séléka rebels and the so-called “Anti-Balaka” militia groups. Initially, these were men who had armed themselves in whatever way they could to defend themselves and their villages and towns against the rebels. In the meantime however, the readiness to use violence has risen among these groups and resulted in recent terrible acts of violence and revenge, further escalating the situation, and the problems now threatening to develop into a conflict between religious communities.

© ACN/AED

© ACN/AED

October 10, 2013, saw a UN Security Council resolution, a proposal for intervention in the Central African Republic. And then in November, the warnings of an impending genocide grew louder.

November  7‚ ‘Transitional President’ Michel Djotodia, his prime minister Nicolas Ntiangaye and the president of the National Transitional Council, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, signed a so-called “Republican Pact”. The agreement was brokered by the Sant’Egidio community in September 2013, in the context of peace negotiations involving representatives of the new government in Bangui, the National Transitional Council, representatives of civil society and of the various faith communities. However, the signing of the Pact still had no practical impact on the situation within the country.

December 5, 2013, the UN Security Council approved a stepping-up of French military involvement and a reinforcement of the MISCA (or African Union) troops. In the interim, outbreaks of fierce fighting in which 300 – 400 people were killed ensued. Thousands fled, either to the capital or other places such as the mission stations, parishes and convents.

The European Union (EU) set up an airlift to bring aid into the country.

In his Christmas message Urbi et Orbi Pope Francis declared: “Grant peace, dear Child, to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life.”

The violence and unrest in Bangui and other parts of the country are on the rise, and there are numerous cases of vengeful attacks, also by the Anti-Balaka, against Muslims. Because of this escalation in violence, over 1 million people have been made refugees in the Central African Republic. Among them, over 100,000 who have sought refuge in the capital Bangui. According to the Red Cross, at least 1,000 people of been killed since early December.

The bishops of the Central African Republic continue to criticize representations of the situation in the country as being first and foremost a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians. They insist that it is far more a political and military conflict at hand.

January 10, 2014, Michel Djotodia resigned as transitional leader of the interim government, during a meeting of the Economic Community of Central African States, (ECCAS), after pressure was put on him by heads of states of neighbouring countries, as he was unable to bring the escalating situation in the Central African Republic under control.

?????????????????????????????????????On 13 January 2014, Pope Francis addressed the Diplomatic Corps: “I think above all of the Central African Republic, where much suffering has been caused as a result of the country’s tensions, which have frequently led to devastation and death. As I assure you of my prayers for the victims and the many refugees, forced to live in dire poverty, I express my hope that the concern of the international community will help to bring an end to violence, a return to the rule of law and guaranteed access to humanitarian aid, even in the remotest parts of the country.“

January 16, 2014, John Ging, the United Nations (UN) representative for Humanitarian Operations, warned of genocide in the Central African Republic, and drew parallels with Rwanda prior to the terrible genocide of 1994. On January 20, Catherine Samba-Panza, the mayor of the capital Bangui, was elected as the country’s transitional president and sworn in on January 23.

 

Coming up:

While the situation in the capital city of Bangui begins to stabilize ever so lightly, it is worsening in other parts of the Central African Republic.  Over the last few days, the north-western part of the country has seen new theatres of violent confrontations and attacks against its Catholic missions.

 

“What are the limits of suffering?”

 

 

© ACN/AED

 

 

 

 

December 23rd – Seventh day: NOVENA for CENTRAL AFRICA

23.12.2013 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, Aid to refugees, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Novena, Peace, Prayer, Uncategorized

For hope.

“O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God. “

COME QUICKLY, LORD. COME, O SAVIOUR!

GRANT US PEACE

“The socio-political situation appears to be desperate. Nonetheless, Advent prepares for the celebration of the happy event in human history: God made Himself one of us in His smallness, his humility and his fragility. He lifts us up from our degradation to fill us with His glory. I am confident that this hope for the people of the Central African Republic will not be in vain. The God who stoops down to the poor, the orphan and the widow, will certainly dry the tears in His children’s eyes and bring them His joy.”

Mons. Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia, S.M.A.
Bishop of Bossangoa

 

ACN-20131214-03689REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.