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Thomson Reuters Foundation and Zack Baddorf
World News

Christians and Muslims in war-torn African nation take blindfold trust test

More than a dozen men and women were led around plants and trees by a partner in the compound of an international charity's compound in the capital city, Bangui.

The exercise was staged as the country is still reeling from the fallout triggered when Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the government President François Bozizé, sparking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias in 2013.

The ensuing ethnic cleansing and a defacto partition between the Muslim north east and the Christian south west has seen thousands of people killed.

Thomson Reuters Foundation/Zack Baddorf

Hada Katidja Siba, a Muslim whose home was burned to the ground, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "I would see a Christian coming toward me and I would just think: 'What is he coming to do to me? Is he coming to kill me or to do something to me?'.

"Even though the situation we have now is difficult, with God's mercy, we can rebuild our country and reconcile with each other."

46 year old Reverend Senjajbazia Nicolas Aime Simpliec, who has lost a close friend in the conflict said the workshop taught him vengeance is not the answer.

He added: "It's about forgiving and living with what happened and going beyond it, so I can reconcile even with those who have killed my colleague."

Workshop leader, Florence Ntakarutimana, a trauma healing specialist from Burundi, has held dozens of similar events across the Central African Republic.

She said: "When someone is not healed, he's not ready for social cohesion. He's not ready for reconciliation. He's not ready for livelihood activities."

The workshop is part of the Central African Republic Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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