CAR: 100s spend months hiding in church

2014-06-05 13:34
Muslim refugees wake up at the Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic. (Jerome Delay, AP)

Muslim refugees wake up at the Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic. (Jerome Delay, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Carnot - Men so old their eyes are clouded with cataracts. Orphans who witnessed their parents' slaughter, left alone to make their way to safety.

Widows caring for seven or more children, not sure how they will survive once they leave a church that has become their one place of safety from Central African Republic's religious violence.

The Reverend Justin Nary and his colleagues have been caring for 900 Muslims at the Catholic church in Carnot since early February, when Christian militia fighters attacked the town. In the weeks that followed, hundreds more Muslims trekked to the church as word spread in the forests that it was a safe haven.

Armed Cameroonian peacekeepers at the church compound's gates have so far kept the Christian militants at bay.

Those staying here sleep at night inside the church or in tents on the grounds of the compound.

Christian fighters in the area have threatened to burn down the church and have made death threats against the priests who work there. One Muslim man who recently left the church was gravely wounded by Christian militiamen in town, Nary said.

Chronic illnesses

Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, runs a health clinic here.

"Some people have been living there, virtually locked up, for more than three months. They have food, drink and access to health care — thanks to MSF — but they are tired and are aging prematurely," Muriel Masse, the aid group's project co-ordinator in Carnot, wrote in a recent dispatch.

 "There's nothing we can do. We listen, because they need to talk. When we can, we treat chronic illnesses and minor injuries. But while they may not be particularly ill, they are battered psychologically."

The displaced Muslims rise each morning with the sun. Merchants line the fence where Muslims can buy food and other goods from the Christians outside.

 Armed peacekeepers escort the young boys as they walk the cattle and animals brought to the church by families staying here, an Associated Press team saw when they visited in April.

'I've lost everything'

Ladi Soudi, 33, spends her days inside the church looking after her seven children after her husband was slain in front of his family three months ago.

 She pulls back her lavender headscarf to show where she was struck with a machete. Her hands bear the scars of defensive wounds from the morning when six Christian fighters attacked her home.

When it was clear her husband Mamadou would not survive she took the children and headed deep into the bush, still bleeding from her head and wrists. She now wants to leave the country where she has lived since she was 12 years old.

"I have lost everything," she says as her 4-year-old son Ibrahim rests his head on her lap and listens to his mother recount their suffering. "I just want to go to Cameroon now."

The peacekeepers say their mandate is to protect the civilians, not escort them from the country. French forces trying to stabilise the former colony also hope families in Carnot will return home.

But few of the Muslims in the church envision a future in Central African Republic after fighting that began in December left thousands dead in the country.
- AP
Read more on:    central african republic  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Restaurant Manager

Western Cape
SET Recruitment Consultants
R20 000 - R30 000 Per Month

upply Chain Manager

Western Cape
ZIMCO Group (PTY) Ltd
R30 000 - R40 000 Per Month

Accountant - Cape Town

Western Cape
Quantum Recruitment

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.