Reverend Maurice Ndougou of the Central African Republic narrowly avoided being another casualty of warfare. Now he’s calling on international Christians to pray for the end of the cycle of violence in the African nation.
The outbreak began last year when the Islamic group Séléka wrested control from President Francois Bozizé. Since then, anti-Balaka, a counter-faction that claims to be Christian, has been fighting back in brutal fashion, leaving many Christians and Muslims in the crossfire. According to Christian Today, the clashes continue to flare up, with devastating results:
“Sectarian violence between the two groups has quickly spread throughout the nation, displacing over 700,000 civilians while a quarter of a million have fled to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Congo. Aid agencies say a humanitarian crisis has left over half the population, around 2.5 million people, in desperate need of food, water and sanitation.”
Some Christians in the country have been sheltering Muslims targeted by anti-Balaka at the risk of their own lives. The Associated Press reports:
“The priests here in Carnot have given away all their money to try and keep the anti-Balaka at bay. There are no aid groups here apart from a clinic operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. The Catholic church, though, is pledging to continue its work here no matter what the personal risk.”
“ ‘For us they are not Muslims or Christians. They are people—people in danger,’ says the Rev. Dieu-Seni Bikowo. ‘The anti-Balaka are not Christians. They are thieves who are profiting from the anger against Muslims.’ ”
*Publication Date: 3/19/2014