Central African Republic – Rich in diamonds and very poor

by | Mar 24, 2024 | News

Sister Elvira T., from Berberati, is on the mobile phone with the editorial staff of Popoli e Missioni, the monthly magazine of the Italian Pontifical Mission Societies (POM): “Right now I am talking to you in the dark because there is no electricity here. The situation is very serious: I am in Berberati, in Central Africa“.

“When I arrived here in 2001, it was a real town. Over time, instead of developing, it has become less than a village”.

All the diamond mines that were a resource have been sold to the Chinese and today machines replace miners. The proceeds from the rough gemstones end up in Asia or Europe, leaving the local economy high and dry.

Talking to us is sister Elvira Tutolo, a missionary nun of Saint Jeanne Antide Thouret.

On the phone from Berberati, a village on the edge of survival, the sister tells us how the war and the predatory economy have impoverished the country. The Church, however, has always made a difference here.

“We missionaries have come a long way over the years: we help people get back on their feet and we value their local culture a lot, because we know it!” she says.

“I believe that the Italian government has unfortunately lagged behind all that has been done for Africa over the years.

We do not realise the evolution in charitable interventions by the Catholic Church and us missionaries specifically. As if so far only charity has been done in Africa! – says the nun – But we missionaries, for example, do neither welfarism nor humanitarian aid. We enter the social and human fabric. All this must be valued”.

Rich in diamonds, about the size of France, nestled right in the centre of the continent, (between Sudan, South Sudan and Congo), Central Africa ranks 188th out of 191 on the Human Development Index.

Worse are only Niger and South Sudan, last in the ranking.

“Don’t look at Bangui, the capital of Central Africa, but look at the outlying villages. The country is completely abandoned. How do we live? The people are very poor and the villages are isolated”.

“Internal guerrilla warfare, the presence of numerous outlawed armed militias and Wagner’s mercenaries in the service of President Touadera -complete the picture-‘” she says.

“An aid package should be rethought here, for example by focusing on agricultural development”.

The missionary works in particular with young people without families, the ‘kizito’, and for them carries out development projects centred on small productive activities, from community gardens to a carpentry school.

Source: https://www.suoredellacarita.org/