AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - A missionary: "Violence, massacres, wild exploitation of resources in the Country"

Friday, 7 June 2019 missionaries   environment   terrorism   violence   human rights  

Bozoum (Agenzia Fides) - "The Country is in a situation of serious instability. Despite the agreements of Khartoum signed in February by the government and 14 rebel leaders, 80% of the territory is in the hands of gangs that respond to local leaders. The agreement signed in Sudan provided for their disarmament, but it did not happen. Thus clashes, looting, violence continue". The situation is denounced by Father Aurelio Gazzera, an Italian Carmelite missionary who has been in the Central African Republic for 28 years, and is today the parish priest of Bozoum and at the head of the diocesan Caritas.
About eighty kilometers from Bozoum, on May 20 and 21, the Tre Erre militias massacred the civilians. "This militia - Father Gazzera continues - says it defends the shepherds of the Peul ethnic group, in reality it fights for itself and for the loot".
In recent years, Father Gazzera has also focused his attention on the exploitation of the Country's natural and mineral resources. An activity that cost him his arrest on 2 May while he witnessed the destruction in a gold mine. "There are no rules - says father Aurelio -, the permits should be granted through official acts by the parliament of Bangui. Instead most of them are given informally by public officials in league with the leaders of institutions. Since the beginning of 2019, 116 permits were granted for the exploitation of diamond and gold mines and for the felling of high quality trees (for timber).
A member of parliament confirmed to me that only eight of them followed the procedure required by law. The state budget forecast includes 100,000 euros of revenue from permits. A ridiculous figure! The mines in Bozoum alone could yield 7 to 8 million".
The dealers are Chinese, Russian, Lebanese and South African companies. "What happens is that foreign companies - notes the religious - sign agreements bribing the officials, without agreements with the local communities, not respecting nature. But their importance is such that the government of Bangui guarantees them the protection of the military. On this country the appetites of many have been unleashed, in contempt of those who live here, with a vast and wild exploitation of mineral resources". (EC) (Agenzia Fides, 7/6/2019)