United Methodist Church Provides Refugee Assistance in Central Africa

UN Peace Keepers in Central Africa Source: UM News

As post-election violence continues to unfold in the Central African Republic, United Methodist ministries have been active on the ground providing refugee services. 

According to the United Nations, more than 200,000 people have fled their homes in the past four months. In response, the United Methodist Church is sheltering 59 displaced persons in the administrative offices while serving as a neutral arbitrator, giving them the ability to distribute food and bibles to both combatant groups. So far, they have distributed roughly 660 pounds of rice, 880 pounds of sugar and 50 gallons of vegetable oil.

As a neutral party, the church “can only welcome and not reject,” the district superintendent said. The church “sees the rebels as lost souls or fishermen who need conversion, salvation and redemption,” he added. 

Currently, rebel militias control more than half the country. As violence continues, thousands of Central Africans have fled across the border creating refugee crises in Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Boris Cheshirkov, the recent arrivals “have strained resources and host families.”

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in the process of solidifying grant funding to provide logistical support for more than 200 displaced families currently residing in the DRC.

East Bangui’s district superintendent concurred. “The church remains the only refuge for the people at this time,” he said.

Seeking to be a beacon of hope and a worn torn country, UMC leaders are optimistic about a prospective African Union brokered ceasefire that could help end hostilities.

Source: UM News