Marina Moulou-Gnatho is a peace activist in CAR

Marina Moulou-Gnatho is a journalist and peace activist in CAR. Above, she demands that women be at the heart of the peace process in her country, during a session at the African Union, on February 3, 2020.

Central African Republic: to win against coronavirus, we need peace.

On March 14 the Central African Republic’s minister of health announced that Covid-19 had arrived in my country, and that the government with its partners would begin fighting the pandemic. But on top of Covid-19, the government must also address fighting between armed groups. If people are still fighting, how will they win against this disease which is attacking the entire world? 

Civilians are trapped

I am scared. In the six weeks since the pandemic began, we have had 94 confirmed cases (on 7 May 2020), including through local contamination, but armed groups are continuing to fight. As usual, it is civilians who are paying the price. Recently, in Ndélé (in the North of the country), local populations found themselves in the middle of fighting between two armed groups. According to the Central African Red Cross, there were 53 dead, including 25 civilians and a toddler. What’s the point of this senselessness? How can we fight against the Coronavirus if our country is not at peace? I am very sad for my country. 

Armed groups must lay down their weapons 

I support the UN Secretary General’s call on March 23 for a global cease-fire. My country should support this appeal. This is why I am calling on all armed groups to lay down their weapons so that together we can fight our common enemy, the Coronavirus. 

A lockdown will predominantly affect women 

Restrictive measures in our country have not yet arrived to the level of a total lockdown, like in other countries. But if we were to adopt similar measures, another problem will impact our households – women with violent husbands will suffer more than ordinarily. 

Restoring peace and including women in the peace process to fight Covid-19 

Our leaders must begin serious discussions with armed groups to reach a cease-fire. I am asking for armed groups – who are all signatories of the February 2019 peace agreement – to lay down their weapons. Every party needs to abide by this peace and reconciliation treaty, to ensure that peace returns across the whole country. Our leaders must also ensure women are full participants of the peace process, and in our response to the Coronavirus. It is only when the guns become silent that these efforts will bear fruit. 

We want peace, save us from Covid-19! 

This text was written by Marina Moulou-Gnatho, a journalist and media focal point of the I Londo Awè! platform, which fights for the equal participation of women in CAR’s peace process.