NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Dec. 11, 2013) In response to an urgent call for emergency assistance from its missionaries working on the ground in the Central African Republic, Salesian Missions has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to provide aid to 20,000 displaced victims seeking shelter and aid.
Salesian missionaries in the Central African Republic reported that a Salesian center in Galabadja has taken in 8,000 and one in Damala has taken in an estimated 12,000 internally displaced people (IDPs). People began fleeing their homes and villages on Dec. 5, 2013, as a to escape attacks caused by clashes between anti-Balaka militants and Seleka rebels who gained power in a coop in March. Violence broke out in the city of Bangui sending people fleeing from their homes in search of safety and shelter. During the escalation of violence, communities have been raided and homes burned. There have also been reports of brutal attacks on women and children.
The United Nations Refugees agency (UNHCR) reported that at least 140 civilians were killed during the clashes and heavy shelling in Bossangoa caused panic among the residents. More than 700 fled to neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since the violence began in December 2012—when the Seleka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks leading to months of violence—UNHCR has reported nearly 400,000 people have been displaced within the CAR, with another 69,800 forced into exile in neighboring countries.
The arrival of more than 1,600 French soldiers in support of current African forces already on the ground restored some order, according to the UN, but the humanitarian situation remains dire.
Scared residents started arriving at the Salesian center in Galabadja early on Dec. 5 when violence first broke out. The Salesian missionaries there provided shelter to more than 2,000 with the numbers expected to as many as 20,000 by in a few short days.
Many displaced victims arrived at the Salesian centers injured. However, due to a lack of fuel the Red Cross could not arrive in time to save some of the injured, according to the missionaries.
“We are in need of medical supplies,” said Father José Maria Sabé SDB, Economer of the Vice-Province of Equatorial Tropical Africa. “The Salesians on the ground have reported that the health center is lacking supplies and they cannot buy anything because the healthcare distributors have disappeared and no longer supply products. We are in the process of assessing their most pressing needs.”
With the influx of so many over a short period of time, resources are limited. There is an urgent need for safe water, sanitation, food and emergency health services. A recent food delivery from the International Red Cross provided some much needed relief but the situation remains fragile.
“The situation is more delicate from the point of view of safety and health,” added Fr. José Maria Sabé SDB, Economer of the Vice-Province of Equatorial Tropical Africa. “Security is a concern at the Salesian centers. So far, all have remained safe but the situation remains delicate.”
Headquartered in New Rochelle, NY, Salesian Missions—the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco—has launched a donation appeal to aid in the humanitarian assistance for those displaced. Donations are urgently needed to get necessary medical, food and other life-saving supplies to those in Salesian centers. Since the missionaries were already working in the affected communities, their response was immediate. As the Salesians continue to provide safety and shelter for displaced families, they are reaching out for support so they may continue to help those in need. To give to the effort, go to www.SalesianMissions.org and select “African Crisis Emergency Fund” on the donate page.