Just after his election in March 2013, Pope Francis told the world he wanted a “poor Church, for the poor,” and if his upcoming travel schedule is anything to go by, it would appear he has remained true to that promise.
On November 29, Francis will arrive in the Central African Republic (CAR) for a stay of just over 24 hours, the Vatican confirmed this week. In the United Nations (U.N.) Human Development Report 2014, CAR was ranked 185th out of 187 countries, ahead of only its neighbor the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Niger. The country has the lowest GDP per capita in the world and is riddled with sectarian tensions between the Seleka—a majority Muslim alliance of militias—and their Christian counterparts, the anti-Balaka. Since independence from France in 1960, the country has had no fewer than eight coups and mutinies.
In the capital of Bangui, a recent wave of violence has resulted in 77 deaths and more than 400 people being injured as Seleka and anti-Balaka militants hunted each other down in the capital. Civilians were caught up in the violence, with at least 31 civilians being shot point-blank, stabbed or having their throats slit in targeted killings, Human Rights Watch (HRW)said on Thursday. The latest clashes were sparked by the murder of a 17-year-old Muslim taxi driver, Amin Mahamat, whose corpse was found with his throat cut on September 26.