Traders demonstrate near the presidential palace in Bangui January 5, 2013. Credits: REUTERS/Luc Gnago courtesy of AlertNet.org

Traders demonstrate near the presidential palace in Bangui January 5, 2013.
Credits: REUTERS/Luc Gnago courtesy of AlertNet.org

Bishops in the Central African Republic (CAR) have called for a ceasefire and the opening of a humanitarian corridor after a month-long revolt by rebels. The bishops’ voices join that of Pope Benedict, who urged for a return to stability in the country earlier this week.

Caritas staff on the ground report pillaging and occupied villages, while many people have been displaced by fighting in central and northern CAR. Over a hundred people are reported to have been killed.

Fr Elysée Guedjandé, secretary general of Caritas CAR, said, “People are sleeping with host families or in churches or parish houses. Their most urgent needs include food, bedding, mosquito nets and anti-malarial medicine.”

While people were attending midnight mass in Kaga Bandoro on Christmas Eve armed men came and ransacked public buildings and destroyed the archives before occupying the town.

Bishop Albert Vanbuel of Kaga Bandoro says, “The situation risks getting worse. The rebels are hungry and their phones don’t work, so they’re now going to people’s homes. They’ve pillaged UN stocks and sold them at the market. Let’s pray that the situation doesn’t get worse.”

Peace talks have been taking place in Gabon between the Government, the opposition and Seleka, a confederation of rebel groups. The rebels, who had taken control of the north and east of the country, are asking Mr Bozize to step down.

The bishops from the Justice and Peace commission are asking the rebels to withdraw, the Government to protect the population, the presence of observers and journalists to ensure that resolutions from peace talks are enforced and ask the international community to strengthen a multi-national force present in the country.

Read the bishops’ statement in French 

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