AFRICA – The appeal to ceasefire for the Covid-19 crisis has not been received in Africa

The clarion call for a ceasefire amid COVID-19 crisis in areas of armed conflicts by world leaders including the Holy Father and the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, have been disregarded in Africa, various Church leaders have testified.

Hostilities have not ceased for example in the English-speaking secessionist areas of Cameroon, as testified by His Exc. Mgr. Andrew Nkea Fuanya, Archbishop of Bamenda, who reported that the secessionist leaders who had agreed to sign a general ceasefire, “in fact don’t actually have much influence on those fighting on the ground”.

The Central African nation with 80 percent French speakers and 20 percent English speakers has been experiencing armed conflicts since 2016. The peaceful protest of the inhabitants who feel marginalized by the central government has transformed into a low intensity armed struggle. Despite some attempts of mediation, the conflict has not yet been resolved.

In neighboring Nigeria, despite the “principal danger” of famine that COVID-19 pandemic poses to the poorest of the people, “we are still still at the mercy of sporadic terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, especially in the northeast of the country”, said His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayu Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja.
Recently, local media reported the killing of at least 11 people as a result of violence between the Tungwa and Utsua-Daa communities. The Clergy of Jalingo Diocese issued a collective statement on June 17 calling on all parties in the conflict to “give peace a chance” and save the State from violence.

In the Central African Republic (CAR), Bishop Bertrand Guy Richard Appora-Ngalanibé of Bambari diocese said that the armed groups plaguing the landlocked nation have clearly not received the message about the ceasefire. “Sadly, in some areas of the Central African Republic, the armed groups are engaged in strategic battles aimed at extending their supremacy and continuing to pillage the natural resources of the country”, he said.

Mgr. Guy Richard, however, expressed optimism in the ongoing interfaith initiatives on COVID-19 sensitization program saying, “With the support of our Protestant and Muslim brethren, gathered under the Interfaith Platform of Religions in Bambari, we are striving to carry out awareness-raising campaigns on this pandemic, since many people still don’t appreciate its extent or its danger”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 25/6/2020)