Your Majesty, Eminences, Excellences, brothers and sisters of the Community of Sant’Egidio,
I bring you the voice of the people of the Central African Republic, of its suffering and of its hope for Peace.
After the coup d’état in March 2013, the 15th in the history of our Republic, my Country has been drawn into a seemingly endless spiral of violence.
The Central African Republic is big and there is room for everyone. Today, however, out of a population of 4 million, more than 1 million and a half have had to flee their homes and survive only thanks to international aid.
I have often travelled through the villages in our provinces, where I have seen men, women and children flee in front of violence. I have seen villages burnt to the ground. Whether in Bouca, in Bossangoa, in Bambari or Dekoa, in Kaga Bandoro, Bakala or Bosa, life in all the cities in our provinces is a desolation.
Never has so much violence been seen. Never has there been talk of war of religion in the Central African Republic. Christians, Muslims and Animists, we had always lived together in harmony.
But our youth listen to the preaching of violence, they take up arms and start on a path with no turning back. I ask for your prayers, for our youth to be preserved from evil.
Many people are convinced that there can be no future of peace for the Central African Republic. I do not believe so.
There is a widespread desire for peace among the men and the women of my people, which is stronger than hatred and the desire for revenge.
There are signs of hope.
In spite of the fact that many people fan the flames of religious hatred, it is in churches and mosques that people seek and find refuge.
The support of the international community has enabled us to carry on in this difficult time, while my Country was lacking everything.
The Republican Pact signed at Sant’Egidio in September 2013 has shown that it is possible to sit down at the same table and overcome distrust, recovering together the sense of belonging to the same national family, with all its religious traditions.
We cannot allow ourselves to waste these signs: they must grow and ripen, in order to bear fruits of peace.
Today, in front of the leaders of all the religions of the world gathered together, and after these days of prayer and dialogue, I am more convinced than before that living together is the future of my people.
Peace is the future!