Caritas leader in Central Africa selected for humanitarian award

The president of Caritas Central African Republic is one of three people to be chosen for an international award for their work in inter-religious dialogue.

Caritas’ Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama and Pastor Nicolas Guérékoyamémé-Gbangou were chosen for the Sergio Vieira de Mello Award as founders of the Interfaith Peace Platform.

Caritas has been funding community peacebuilding efforts and plans to create ‘youth peacemakers’ to improve relations. Photo by Elodie Perriot/Caritas

Caritas has been funding community peacebuilding efforts and plans to create ‘youth peacemakers’ to improve relations. Photo by Elodie Perriot/Caritas

The platform promotes reconciliation and dialogue among Muslims, Catholics and Protestants in war-torn Central African Republic.

The three men have travelled together around CAR preaching peace and reconciliation to communities. They have also opened churches and mosques to provide shelter to people uprooted by conflict.

Violence erupted in CAR when rebels took over the capital Bangui in 2013. Nearly 3 million people are in need of help as a result of the ongoing conflict and almost half a million people have fled their homes.

The Sergio Vieira de Mello Award is named after a United Nations official who was killed along with 21 other aid workers when the UN headquarters in Baghdad were bombed.

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