, 17 October, 2020 / 4:00 PM
Details of what a project established to restore the dignity of those who have survived acts of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) seeks to achieve have been outlined in a report published Monday, October 12.
In the report, the leadership of Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) that is spearheading the 12-month pilot project in CAR also gives an overview of the background of the current crisis.
“Specifically, on the basis of identified needs, COOPI's action will seek to contribute to meeting the food and nutritional needs of victims, to improve access to education for children and access to social services (hospitals and counseling centers),” the leadership of COOPI, an Italy-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that was founded by a Jesuit Cleric reports.
The project, which is being realized thanks to a financial subsidy from the Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court (ICC), seeks “to support job creation through the development of income-generating activities, and to contribute to strengthening social cohesion,” officials of COOPI say in their October 12 report.
“In addition, given the global health context characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic, cross-cutting activities will be implemented to raise awareness and prevention of this disease,” they say in their October 12 report published under the headline: “CAR. Assistance to the survivors with the International Criminal Court’s Fund.”
They further say that the pilot project, which was officially launched on September 1, is based on an assessment of the needs of those who have survived the protracted violence in the landlocked nation and live in the country’s capital, “Bangui and its surroundings.”
“This project aims to improve the quality of life of survivors through a holistic response in the area of mental health and psychosocial well-being, and access to opportunities to improve the socio-economic status of survivors of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bangui and its surroundings,” COOPI officials say.
They go on to explain that the “intervention within this project is considered a priority in view of the needs expressed by the survivors of CAR crimes living in Bangui and the poverty situation in which they live, without ignoring their current inability to access basic social services, in this case access to education or health.”
Dubbed “Assistance to victims of the situation in the Central African Republic: Physical and Psychological Rehabilitation and Socio-Economic Support to Survivors in a situation of acute vulnerability in the city of Bangui,” the one-year project seeks to support thousands of survivors of the country’s violent crises.
“In its history, the Central African Republic has experienced several deep crises that have worsened the poverty of the population. Between 2002 and 2003, armed groups occupied some of CAR's major towns, including its capital Bangui,” the leadership of the NGO indicates.
In the wake of the armed groups, “several men and women were victims of rape and sexual violence, murder, looting, torture, and other serious crimes,” COOPI officials say.
“Victims of these heinous acts continue to suffer in body and soul,” the officials decry and add in reference to the victims, “They are still experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder accompanied by the stigma within their families and communities and they are also living with physical injuries that require medical treatment.”
Besides the physical and mental health troubles, the survivors are “deprived of the means to generate sources of income to meet the basic needs of their households,” officials of the Milan-based organization that has presence in 30 countries have reported.
In their quest to restore the dignity of the violence survivors, the organization’s officials say the beneficiaries will be selected based on their “situation of acute vulnerability,” with priority given to survivors of rape and gender-based violence, HIV-positive survivors, rejected or widows/widowers’ survivors, and homeless/displaced survivors.
Other beneficiaries who will be given priority include vulnerable children born of rape and/or living with HIV, survivors living with physical disabilities, and survivors suffering from other injuries or illnesses resulting from the crimes they have suffered.
In implementing the project, COOPI officials say that they are committed to ensuring collaboration with the country’s authorities and the full participation of the beneficiaries.
Founded in 1965 by the “megaphone of charity” Italian Jesuit Fr. Vincenzo Barbieri (1930 – 2010), COOPI strives to break the cycle of poverty and support populations affected by wars, socio-economic crisis or disasters in order to encourage resilience and sustainable development.
In Africa, COOPI runs programs in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), The Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
In its vision statement, “COOPI aspires to a world without poverty, a world in which the ideals of equality and justice, sustainable development and social cohesion can be achieved, thanks to the coming together and cooperation of its peoples.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa