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Priest describes peacemaking efforts, refugee crisis in Central African Republic

Catholic World News - July 01, 2014

In an interview that took place recently in Europe, Father Aurelio Gazzera, an Italian priest, discussed his efforts to mediate between opposing militias in the Central African Republic. Meanwhile in one of the main cities of the troubled country, 12,000 refugees have sought asylum in a Catholic cathedral.

Father Gazzera has served as a missionary there for 22 years. At one point in the conflict, 6,000 people, fleeing Islamist Séléka forces, took refuge in his parish.

“We managed to prevent the worst and maintain a certain level of stability,” the priest told World Watch Monitor, as he recalled that he has been hit, pelted with stones, and shot at.

In a related story, Bishop Eduard Mathos of Bambari told the Fides news service that "at least 12,000 people" had gathered in the cathedral. Driven from their homes elsewhere in the country by the Seleka militia, have have arrived "without any assistances," the bishop reported, and to date Red Cross has been able to supply only water. Bishop Mathos issued an urgent plea for aid "to prevent a humanitarian disaster."

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