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Polish monks reluctant to leave Central African Republic

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 05.02.2014 09:26
Poland's foreign ministry has appealed to Polish missionaries to leave the Central African Republic "immediately" as ethnic violence left at least 75, mostly Christians, dead this week.

Foreign Ministry's Marcin Wojciechowski (right) with president of the Capuchin Foundation Tomasz Grabiec in Warsaw: photo - PAP/Jakub Kamiński

"In connection with the dramatically worsening security situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland categorically appeals to Polish nationals residing permanently or temporarily in the Central African Republic to leave the country immediately using any available means of transportation until the situation returns to normal," a statement on the ministry's web site says.

The appeal comes after a Polish mission in Ngaoundaye was raided by Muslim rebels on Monday.

A Polish foreign ministry official is meeting with the Capuchin Order in the Central African Republic after reports that the missionaries are refusing the leave the country, where ethnic violence between Christians and Muslims has caused around 20 percent of the population to flee their homes.

Thirty nine monks and others connected to the order are now in the country after three more missionaries and a nurse arrived from Poland this week, Polish Radio's new agency (IAR) is reporting.

“We are in touch with Catholic missionaries despite communication problems," foreign ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski told reporters in Monday.

"We are offering to evacuate the Polish missionaries. But because of the nature of their work, their vocation, for them [leaving the country] is the last resort,” he added after meeting with president of the Capuchin Foundation in Warsaw, Father Tomasz Grabiec.

Sectarian fighting in the town of Boda, around 100 kilometers from the capital Bangui, left at least 75 people dead, a local priest has said.

The majority of those confirmed dead were Christian, Father Cassien Kamatari said.

Fifty Polish troops are to assist 1,600 French and 4,000 African soldiers with logistical support in the Central African Republic as they try to stabilize the situation there.

The United Nations has estimated that around 10,000 troops are needed on the ground, however. (pg)

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