Central African Republic (MNN) — A new CAR government has been appointed, but that doesn’t mean things are improving. Prime Minister Mahamat Kamoun, appointed earlier this month, and his 29-member Cabinet are taking their first steps today toward ending violence that’s tearing the country apart.
Forming a new CAR government is a step in the right direction, at least in the eyes of the UN peacekeeping chief. But to ministry workers on the ground, real change will likely come when some 7,600 U.N. soldiers and police arrive in mid-September.
“It still is not calm, just to make it clear. [There are] a lot of problems still in the country. Nobody wants to lay down arms.”
Violence continues daily
Fighting between Muslim residents and international peacekeepers broke out mid-week in the capital city of Bangui, injuring dozens and killing at least five people. Tensions came to a head when residents accused European Union (EU) troops of shooting and killing a man on Tuesday evening.
About 20% of the CAR’s population has been displaced by fighting that began last year. More than half of the country’s 4 million residents are in “urgent” need of assistance, says the UN.
But so does Gospel work
Despite ongoing fighting, “We have been able to get some work done,” Hocking says. He then shares an update: a ministry in Bozoum operated by Aurelio Gazzera has asked them to dig eight wells.
“This is for a Catholic organization, but we’re able to share the Gospel at the same time,” explains Hocking, adding that the project excites the Water for Good team.
They’ve had to lay people off because there aren’t as many projects to work on this year.
“We normally have between 90 and 100 contracts; this year, we’ve only had 30 contracts. The contracts are not coming because [villages are] dealing with relief issues [resulting from the violence], and not development issues. A new well is considered development.”
Despite multiple challenges, there is at least one silver lining: the CAR’s unrest is causing people to ask questions. This gives believers a chance to share the hope of Christ.
“We have teams on the ground sharing their faith,” says Hocking. “But without some funding for food, lodging, transportation, and a few tools, we cannot continue to work.”