The shadow of food insecurity hangs over the Central African Republic

The second least developed country in the world, the Central African Republic was directly affected by the consequences of two years of pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, did not hide his concern, while inviting Central Africans to oversee their fate.

Interview with Jean-Charles Putzolu-Vatican City

The cessation of Russian and Ukrainian grain exports, which alone account for 30 percent of the global wheat market, has no consequences for a country like the Central African Republic. The country is slowly returning some resemblance to tranquility to 80 percent of its territory. Rebels who have been fighting government forces since 2013 have been pushed away from major cities, but as the security situation improves, the food situation is worrisome. Climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine are exacerbating the country’s pacification. However, the Archbishop of Bangui wants to remain optimistic. Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga is fully committed to the reconciliation process. The Central African Republic “started a new beginning since 2021, in the sense that in 2020, we are close to the worst in a coup d’etat at the gates of Bangui”. Today, the prelate emphasizes, a large part of the population can continue their business and pursue a professional activity or cultivate agricultural land. “Now that the rebels are retreating into the woods, 30 or 40 kilometers away from the big cities, in the big city, people are moving and life is becoming very different”.

The rebels must lay down their weapons

“Our wish is that all those who have been withdrawn inside, in the bush, especially the youth, will work hard and we will look each other in the face, work together, work to contribute to the development of our country”, said the archbishop. Although the international context does not seem conducive to holding a dialogue, Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga remains highly optimistic: “I saw many rebels who wanted to resign, because the war was exhausting, because the leaders had left. They want to lay down their weapons.. The cardinal took this message to the highest level of the state so that the government and the international community could join forces and provide “a chance for these young people”.

After nearly ten years of rebellion, “We don’t change the pen weapon overnight”. Returning to civilian life requires having a program, which takes into account the journey of former rebels to try to see a different and sustainable future. It is important that young people take part in the process to help them initiate change in their heads and in their spirits, the cardinal explained.

Promise of the Church

The prelate of Central Africa is fully committed to peace and dialogue. “The Church is there” he said, to reach these young people, many of whom no longer know why they will hold a weapon one day. “The Church is involved because the Church should not be outside society. The Church is a social sensitivity and it too should be at the forefront of its vigilance. Let us not forget that the Church has a prophetic mission to say, sometimes expecting what others fear or do not have the courage to do. And we do it in the name of the Gospel. ”.

Do not give up peace, despite the unfavorable global context, “Because if there is no peace, the child will not go to school. If there is no peace, the mother will not go to her farm. If there is no peace, the sick person is not in his bed to receive medicine. Without peace there is no progress.. The Archbishop continued: “Yes, the international context is not favorable, but will we still wait for the context to change so that we can also taste happiness, development? Or now, we can also face the problem, be responsible and take our destiny into our own hands without always waiting for someone to push us or always give us things..

The food crisis is threatening

The war in Ukraine and the pandemic have a cost for the population of the Central African Republic that carries the full weight of the effects. “Back then, in my country, we bought a bag of cement for 8,500 francs. Right now, a bag costs 17,000, which is double. The price of steel has gone up, the price of salt has gone up, the price of sugar has gone up because we can’t make all these materials. We are hopeful and we are suffering in this situation. So there is a negative impact. The poor mother who is still traditionally working can no longer afford to buy. It is difficult for many households to cope with this crisis that has been triggered elsewhere and has consequences right here..

International aid remains essential to support the Central African Republic economically. However, the United Nations plan of $ 461 billion so far has only raised 22 percent of that amount. “When you look at someone, it’s like you’re abandoned”comment by the Archbishop of Bangui, “People who promised and did not keep. They should ask. Why do we promise? Why are we not aware? Did we keep our word? What are the consequences? We provide for something else, but to save human life or allow unity, it is more difficult..

The solution is in Central Africans themselves to find it: “We are not always waiting. Even if small, we should enjoy it and start the change in progress. This situation challenges us because if I may say so, I have to wait for the money to arrive for planting my farm, for building my house, for building my family and for a new life. I could wait a long and fast time […] They need to get up, move forward, walk, find solutions. I appeal to all in good spirits. We can, often say, faith moves mountains and I believe we must have what is called resilience, determination, and spread the strength of hope by saying yes, we can do it. Yes we can change. Yes, we can change and we must see our families, our brothers and sisters living differently than seeing them in misery, in poverty. ”.

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