Missionary Priest Injured in CAR Mine Explosion to Undergo Second Amputation in Italy

Fr. Norberto Pozzi. Credit: ACN

Fr. Norberto Pozzi, a Missionary Priest who sustained injuries in a mine explosion in the Central African Republic (CAR) has traveled to Italy to have his leg amputated in an operation that has been described as “very complicated”.

The operation in Italy will be the second for the member of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers, who recently lost his foot in a series of surgeries to save his life following the February 10 explosion.

In a Tuesday, February 21 report by Agenzia Fides, Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, a confrere of Fr. Norberto, said that the 71-year-old Italian Missionary Priest had traveled from a hospital in Uganda where he had had the first amputation.

“Father Norberto is on his way to Italy,” Fr. Aurelio is quoted as saying, adding that his confrere was “expected to fly from Kampala to Amsterdam today, February 21st, and finally arrive in Bologna tomorrow (February 22).”

On the current state of health of the injured Missionary Priest, Fr. Aurelio says, “Unfortunately, he is not well. After a first operation in the UN hospital in Central Africa, our confrere was transferred to Kampala, where the doctors noticed that the foot bone was completely destroyed and the tissue in necrosis and had to amputate his left foot.”


“Now a new operation with another amputation above the ankle has become necessary,” Fr. Aurelio told Agenzia Fides, and added, “Since the operation is very complicated, a decision was reached to transfer him to Italy.”

Fr. Pozzi was injured when the car he was traveling in drove over a mine, causing it to explode, on his way to Bocaranga, a city that is Northwest of CAR’s capital, Bangui.

According to a report by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Fr. Pozzi was the only passenger that was seriously injured in the car that he was traveling in, during the incident.

In a February 15 report, ACN noted that the Missionary Catholic Priest had “already undergone several emergency surgical operations”, adding, “In the most recent one, on Monday (February 13), doctors were even forced to amputate his left foot.”

The charity foundation reported, referring to Fr. Pozzi, “His state of health, with multiple fractures, required a great deal of care, and the intervention of the military of the UN force present in the region was requested, which transported the missionary by helicopter to the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, located about 400 kilometers away.”

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Fr. Pozzi reportedly underwent a delicate three-hour surgical procedure, in which doctors tried to save his injured left leg.

With other surgeries unsuccessful, the Catholic Missionary Priest was transported to the UN hospital in Entebbe, Uganda, where he underwent another operation on February 13.

At the hospital in Uganda, unfortunately, the doctors “had to amputate his left foot,” ACN reported, adding that the accident occurred just over twenty kilometers from Bozoum, in the Diocese of Bouar, where the oldest Carmelite mission in CAR is located.

Fr. Pozzi reportedly arrived in CAR as a missionary in 1980. At the time he was still a layman and worked as a land surveyor and bricklayer for eight years in the Carmelite missions in this African country. He later returned to Italy to be ordained a Priest and returned to CAR in 1995.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.