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'Criminals are in charge of the Central African Republic' says Human Rights Watch Director

November 18th, 2014
01:30 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

“Criminals are in charge” of the Central African Republic, and the country "continues to descend in to absolute chaos,” Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Monday.

One of Africa’s poorest nations, the C.A.R. has been ravaged by a war between Muslims – Séléka militias – and anti-Muslim “Anti-Balaka” militias. Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands of Muslims have fled the country.

France and the United Nations have sent peacekeepers to help rebuild the former French colony, which has seen five coups since independence in 1960, but the challenge they face is huge.

"The peacekeepers face a very difficult task in the Central African Republic,” Bouckaert told the program. “There basically is no governance in most of the country. The state has just disappeared. There are no detention facilities. They have to re-establish law and order in a country as big as France with just twelve thousand troops."

The Human Rights Watch Director gave a dark vision of the African country's current predicament but he was joined in the interview by a living symbol of hope in the future, Father Bernard Kinvi.

A Roman Catholic Priest based in the northwest of the country, Kinvi's Mission and hospital became a refuge for Muslims fleeing violence. He treated the injured and pleaded with their attackers to stop.

Father Bernard joined the program on his first trip outside Africa shortly after being honored by Human Rights Watch for his “unwavering courage and dedication to protecting civilians in the Central African Republic.”

Amanpour asked the priest what happened when these Anti-Balaka militants first came to his village, Bossemptele.

"When we understood that the Anti-Balaka were there, we wanted to try and negotiate to see if they would stop any armed confrontation,” Kinvi told the program. “But they wouldn't listen to us."

"Then there was confrontation. Some Muslims managed to hide; some managed to get away and some got into the hospital. But many went into the bush as well and were not able to flee the conflict. And unfortunately all those who were not able to flee died. They were massacred. They were killed."

"I found children. I found people who had escaped. I found invalids. I found wounded and I brought them to the hospital."

"They wanted to kill a young boy of 13 years of age. They wanted to kill him. And their interpretation was that he would grow. He would grow up into a man and should be killed. So I said to them, OK. Well, first, you'll have to kill me. Kill me first."

Despite daily threats, Father Bernard Kinvi managed to save thousands of besieged Muslims by shielding them in his Roman Catholic Mission.

FULL POST

Joining voices against Ebola

November 17th, 2014
02:51 PM ET

Imagine a world where Africa's problems change but the rallying cry for aid remains the same and where pop stars and rock legends join voices to offer a helping hand.

Christiane Amanpour has the story on Band Aid 30.


Filed under:  Africa • Christiane Amanpour • Imagine a World • Latest Episode

Are we closer to stopping Ebola?

August 27th, 2014
01:17 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

It has been over five months since the worst outbreak of Ebola in history struck West Africa.

In Liberia, more than 570 people have died from disease.

But the nation's Information Minister Lewis Brown told the program that they are making progress tackling the spread of the virus.

"We believe now that we are better positioned than we've been in a couple of months to be able to get a handle on this and hopefully to eradicate it from our country."

Talking from Liberia's capital, Monrovia, he was hopeful but quite frank about the troubles his country faced when trying to halt the charge of infections.

"The truth of the matter is we're not just fighting a disease in isolation; we're fighting the disease with people we know. We're fighting cultural, long-held cultural practices and beliefs. And certainly we're not the most enlightened society in the world. And we're trying to bring every tool imaginable to bear in helping our communities help themselves."

"It is truly a difficult fight. We need all hands on deck. We need all those expertise to align behind this fight as best as we can."

FULL POST


Filed under:  Africa • Christiane Amanpour • Ebola • Latest Episode • Liberia