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During a research trip to the Central African Republic, or CAR, in March, Mr. Moise-Augustine Goroth, a local official in the town of Mboki, gave me a letter he wanted the world to see. Written on September 14, 2009, the letter – essentially a cry for help – describes attacks committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the prefecture of Haut Mbomou in CAR.
Mr. Goroth had initially written the letter for the French ambassador in Bangui, which he sent with someone travelling to the capital. In the letter, he asks the French ambassador to deploy French troops to protect the population of Haut Mbomou, given France’s colonial ties to CAR and the inability of CAR soldiers to address the threat of the LRA. Mr Goroth never received an answer from the French ambassador. When he found out about the LRA bill, at the time being discussed in the U.S. Senate, Mr. Goroth gave me a copy of the letter sent to the ambassador and asked me to publicize its message.
Since President Obama will soon sign the LRA bill into law, it seems appropriate to publish Mr. Goroth’s letter. Here are some excerpts, roughly translated from French, and a photo of the original.
Haut Mbomou Prefecture
Sub-Prefecture of Obo
Commune of Mboki Mboki, 14 September, 2009
To His Excellence, Ambassador of France in Bangui
Subject: Lamenting cries to protect us
We, the population of Haut Mbomou have the great honor to transmit to France our cries for help so that she [France] can save us.
Our lives here in Haut Mbomou are in critical danger and we don’t know how we are going to survive. The Ugandan rebels (Tongo-Tongo) have invaded our region and have killed more than 50 people and abducted more than 100 people; men, women and children.
On the entire axis from Obo to Bambouti, all villages more than five km outside of Obo are empty, as people have left for fear of LRA attacks. Such is the case with the villages of Kouroko, Ngoume, Koubou, Gassimbala, Ligoua, Bougoua Bassigbiri and Kparangbana. The population of Bambouti is also leaving; many have already crossed into Sudan.
On the road from Mboki to Obo, the rebels killed seven people on September 9, 2009, 20 km west of Obo. Many were kidnapped including a local chief. The village of Kadjema was also attacked by the LRA recently, many people left and came to Mboki. Villages near Gougbere were attacked by the LRA on July, 31 2009. The majority of the population was displaced and lives now in Obo. On August 27, 2009, Maboussou was attacked, where the LRA abducted many people and seriously injured an elderly man. On July 24, the Tongo-Tongo attacked Mboki and killed five people.
Your excellence, the population of Haut Mbomou is suffering and cannot even work in their gardens, our sole way of survival. We fear for our lives. Please help us.