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12 April 2021

BOUAR, Central African Republic Refugees at the Carmelite Monastery of St. Elias in Bouar

On January 13, 2021, yet another failed coup plunged the population of the Central African Republic into panic.  2,385 persons, the majority of them women and children, fled from the rebel military and sought sanctuary in our Monastery of St. Elias.  With the assistance of some ONG and agents of the United Nations, the friars were able to cope with the most urgent needs of the refugees.

So for 40 days it was necessary to reorganise the whole life at St. Elias.  We had to live and share:  the Friars with the refugees, the refugees with their fears and hopes and everybody with insecurity and uncertainty.  During this tragic period seven babies were born in the monastery.  On February 5, the Bishop of Bouar, Mons. Mirek Guewa, paid us a visit and, with the refugees, took part in some moments of prayer guided by our Friars.  Then on February 9, Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga, the Archbishop of Bangui also visited, accompanied by the “Religious Platform” of Bangui which included Catholic members and some Protestants and Muslims.  These all offered words of encouragement and support to the refugees.  All the members of the Platform wanted to bless the new mothers and their infants, before concluding their visit with shared prayer.  On that very day Bouar was liberated y the Central African Republic army with Russian assistance.

From February 13, all the refugees were able to gradually return to their homes.  At our Sunday Nass on February 14,  one lady, speaking on behalf of all the refugees, expressed their gratitude to the Carmelite Community.  Since then only the Central African soldiers and some Russians remain here.  These come to get water and to have showers.