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Central African Republic: prelate distributes food as US envoy holds meeting

Catholic World News - January 08, 2014

Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Central African Republic’s leading prelate, has played a key role in the distribution of food to a crowd of over 100,000 people who have fled their homes in the wake of civil unrest.

The food distribution took place at the airport in Bangui, the nation’s capital.

“The airport site is very complex,” Archbishop Nzapalainga told the Reuters news agency. “It isn’t easy to manage more than 100,000 people. We tried it twice before and each time it was a failure.”

An estimated 1,000 people have died since December as members of Anti-balaka, a network of Christian militias loyal to ousted President François Bozizé, fight against the Islamist Séléka forces who helped bring Michel Djotodia to power in March.

Members of the Séléka rebel coalition assumed power in the nation in March and “embarked on months of looting, raping and killing,” in the words of a December Reuters report. Islamist Séléka members, some of them foreigners, have been attacking Christian institutions, raising fears of genocide. President Djotodia has said that he has no control over Séléka, which he has officially disbanded.

On January 7, the same day as the prelate distributed food, Rashad Hussain, the US Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, conducted a video conference meeting with Archbishop Nzapalainga, a Muslim leader, an evangelical leader, and the mayor of Bangui.

“The panelists from the United States praised the religious leaders in CAR for their efforts to promote religious tolerance and reconciliation, noted examples of successful interfaith cooperation in the United States, and proposed further collaboration with their counterparts,” the US State Department said in a press release.

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