14 March 2014 by defenceWeb (Reuters)
The United States has donated 37 vehicles, including three ambulances, to the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) as part of its $100 million commitment to support MISCA and French troops in the country.
The vehicles, worth $2.4 million, include three ambulances, a bus, a tanker truck and 32 4x4 trucks. They were handed over to MISCA on March 9 following an urgent plea from the mission for materiel support.
“This donation on the part of the American people is testimony to the commitment of the United States to a more prosperous and stable Africa,” the US embassy in Cameroon said. “The United States remains deeply concerned over the ongoing violence in CAR and appreciates the sacrifices of the Cameroonian, Gabonese, Congolese, Equatoguinean, Rwandan, Burundian, and French soldiers as they operate in very difficult conditions.”
The US has also provided logistic support to other countries involved in the Central African Republic (CAR). Earlier this year two US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters flew 850 troops from Burundi to the CAR, following a French request.
Last week the European Union (EU) and the African Union formalised an EU contribution of 50 million euros to support MISCA. The contribution covers the period from August 2013 to June 2014 and will be used to pay troop allowances and other MISCA expenses, according to the African Union.
Some 1 000 European soldiers are to be deployed in the coming days in the CAR to help secure the country, which has been racked by violence between Christians and Muslims.
However, the European Union plan to send a military force to keep the peace in Central African Republic is in jeopardy because of the failure of European governments to provide soldiers and equipment, EU sources said on Thursday.
The EU has drawn up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to Central African Republic to join 6 000 African and 2 000 French troops, who have struggled to stop the fighting that started when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago in the majority Christian state.
Failure to launch the mission would be an embarrassment for the European Union, which has been trying to burnish its credentials as a security organization, and a setback for France, which has called for more European support for its efforts in Central African Republic, according to Reuters.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote to governments on March 11 to say the EU had hoped to launch the operation next Monday but that "the difficulties we are experiencing in generating the necessary capabilities to establish the EU force put these plans at risk."
"We are in particular still missing logistical enablers, staff for headquarters and infantry units ... As of today the operation commander still does not have sufficient troops at his disposal required to conduct the operation," Ashton wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
"Logistical enablers" means vehicles and soldiers qualified in logistics, according to an EU diplomatic source.
The EU held three so-called "force generation" conferences in February and early March at which EU governments pledged soldiers and equipment.
A fourth meeting was held on Thursday, after Ashton made her appeal, but there was little change in the situation and key equipment and troops were still lacking, the source said, adding that about 80 percent of the required troops had been pledged.
Based on this situation, the force's French commander Major-General Philippe Ponties would conclude that he could not recommend launching the mission for now, the source said.
In her letter, Ashton spelled out the consequences of a failure to launch the mission, saying that, in the short term, it would make it difficult for the United Nations to deploy a planned peacekeeping force which is expected to be nearly 12,000-strong.
"In the long term, the EU would risk losing its credibility. Indeed, our deployment has been announced to our partners in the Central African Republic and in the region, to the African Union and to the U.N.," she said.
"The time has come for us to deliver and we must support the international community in a joint effort to make the Central African Republic a secure place to live in," she said.
Estonia, France, Latvia and Portugal are among EU states that have committed soldiers to the force so far as well as non-EU member Georgia, diplomats say.