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19 janvier 2015 1 19 /01 /janvier /2015 17:45
EU establishes mission to advise armed forces in the Central African Republic

 

19/01/2015 Press release 17/15 / Foreign affairs & international relations

 

The Council has established the EU Military Advisory Mission in the Central African Republic (EUMAM RCA). It sets out to support the Central African authorities in preparing a reform of the security sector, especially with respect to the management of the CAR armed forces (FACA). The new mission will follow the EU military operation in the CAR (EUFOR RCA), which contributes to security in the capital Bangui until 15 March 2015.

 

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said: "The European Union is fully committed to support CAR's return to stability. This new mission will play a critical role in strengthening the security sector. EUMAM will advise on the reforms necessary to make the CAR armed forces a more multi-ethnic, professional and republican army."

 

EU experts will advise on how to manage the military forces as well as on the preparation of a future systemic reform of the FACA. In addition, they will provide expertise on the conditions for a training programme for the army. Based on a gradual approach, the mission could also conduct limited non-operational training.

 

The mission is set to last 12 months, starting from the moment of reaching Full Operational Capability. EUMAM's headquarters will be located in Bangui. Brigadier General Dominique Laugel from France has been appointed EU Mission Commander for a team of up to 60 staff. The budget for the preparation phase and the first year of the mission is estimated at €7.9 million.

 

A separate Council decision is required to launch EUMAM's activities.

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16 septembre 2014 2 16 /09 /septembre /2014 16:45
Central African Republic crisis: Minusca new peace mission

 

15 September 2014 BBC Africa

 

The UN is formally taking over peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic (CAR), where about 25% of the population has fled their homes.

 

The new force will largely comprise 6,200 African troops already there. There are also 2,000 French troops, who will not be part of the UN force, but human rights groups say a bigger force is urgently needed to end the violence.

 

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4 juillet 2014 5 04 /07 /juillet /2014 07:45
Uganda says Seleka now its enemy as it hunts LRA in Central African Republic

 

02 July 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

Seleka fighters in the CAR.Uganda's army said on Tuesday the mainly Muslim Seleka group in Central African Republic was now its enemy as the fighters were "in bed" with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels they are hunting there.

A spokesman for the Ugandan army said its forces in CAR had clashed for the first time with Seleka, killing 12 and suffering one casualty. A Seleka official told Reuters on Monday that 15 of their fighters and three Ugandan soldiers were killed.

"Seleka had never tasted our fire. I think it was important that they taste our fire so that they are careful," Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) said, when asked about clashes on Sunday and Monday in CAR.

 

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12 mai 2014 1 12 /05 /mai /2014 11:50
A comprehensive approach without a security strategy is a hallucination

 

 

8th May 2014  – by Jo Coelmont - europeangeostrategy.org



The European Union’s (EU) mantra, ‘the comprehensive approach’ is known worldwide. However, a mantra that is being repeated at all times and in all circumstances probably refers to an aspiration rather than a reality. The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) is the perfect example to illustrate just that.

 

Successful CSDP operations, regardless…

All military CSDP operations conducted so far have reached their military objectives. Compared with other international organisations involved in crisis management this is unique, and a reason to be proud. However, with the exception of the operations in Bosnia and in Mali, no military CSDP operation has really been conducted comprehensively. As a net consequence lasting results have seldom or never been achieved. Political pressure had a tendency to fade away soon after the launch of any operation. The civilian capabilities deployed were at best under-dimensioned if not completely absent. The most crucial element to obtain durable results, economic investment, never materialised. Often emergency and/or development aid was provided, but that is not a substitute. As to the Security Sector Reform operations launched by the EU under the ‘civil’ or ‘civil-military’ label, the results are disappointing too. Generally a homeopathic dose was administered when the real stuff was needed.

The operations in Libya are the example of a non-comprehensive way of acting. While European nations where taking the lead in the military operations, the European External Action Service (EEAS) was planning for humanitarian aid in complete isolation from the military intervention. It was, in fact, acting as an non-governmental organisation. Eventually the EU lost the beauty contest to set up such an operation in Libya to the United Nations, which was also acting on its own. Meanwhile the durable results of the military operations in Libya are well known: they are called Mali and the Central African Republic.

 

Events, dear boy, events

Fortunately not each and every crisis requires military assets to be part of the solution, on the contrary. The real question is how to explain the absence of any comprehensive approach whenever CSDP actions or operations are on the agenda. In the absence of an effective Security Strategy, in every contingency the starting position of the EU and the Member States is a blank sheet. The first step is for Member States to investigate whether the issue at hand is affecting their values or (individual) interests, and if so, whether it concerns a priority issue, and whether the region is considered as such. If the answer looks like a yes, discussions may start on how, when and with what means to react. If military action is judged appropriate by some Member States – the few that most of the time have the honour to act in the name of so many – than enter the process of ‘force generation conferences’. In the meantime, emergency aid may be provided. As to economic action: are the economy and trade ever really taken into account in crisis situations? More generally, is the overall desired strategic outcome and a comprehensive roadmap to reach it ever being thought about? Please, not now, we are in the midst of confronting events, dear boy.

 

Ukraine, a surprise

Taking improvised initiatives on the international scene, without a strategy, may turn out to be audacious, as recent events once more made clear.

Last year Ukraine was approached, mainly by the Commission, with a proposals to establish a trade agreement, as if Ukraine was simply about another extension of the internal market. For the EU this is well-known business. And yet, that same Union was completely surprised with the ultimate outcome. It was revealed to be a matter of geopolitics and strategy. And all of a sudden, the Union had, and still has, difficulties to respond.

 

A strategy or no strategy

Some actors have a strategy. You may not appreciate Russia’s moves, but Moscow acted in a rather comprehensive way, politically, economically and military. This is not to say that Putin has masterminded all events, but he was well prepared, having a strategy and even a doctrine (which one might call ‘Putin infiltration’), as well as the means to act accordingly. This makes that Russia, for the time being, can punch above its weight. Compared to each of the individual EU member states, Russia is rather big. Compared to the Union as such, Russia is an economically and even military middle-sized country, with some potential but facing enormous weaknesses. But at the political level, it is a chess player. And that makes all the difference.

In the Ukrainian crisis, the US is acting in a remarkably steadfast manner, in line with its strategy. In the past, whenever a security crisis emerged, the President of the US traditionally called on ‘the US and Allies’ to take action, suggesting the US take the lead and the Allies follow. In the meantime that has changed. At the start of the Obama administration it was always was referring to the ‘US and European countries’, suggesting some kind of burden-sharing. Later that changed to ‘the US and Europe’, carefully avoiding the pitfall of mentioning ‘the EU and its Member States’. Today, with the crisis in Ukraine, it is all about ‘the US and the EU’. The message is clear. The US will remain involved. However, in Washington Russia is measured by its potential to cause disruption, in particular in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran. No doubt Washington will react to Moscow’s expansionist ambitions, but it will not allow itself to get distracted from its main geostrategic concerns in Asia. Globally speaking, the US is looking towards Europe as its principal partner. But you only have a real partner if, when faced with a crisis, the outcome matters equally to the partner if not even more so. For NATO, article 5 matters profoundly, for each and every partner. But for the crisis in Ukraine, NATO will not do the trick.

 

Central Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa, no doubt matters a great deal for Europe, so… After 3 wakeup calls, time to get up

The crisis in Yugoslavia triggered the ESDP and some concrete actions. Iraq triggered the CSDP and even a European Security Strategy (ESS), a prelude to a real Strategy, calling for preventive action and a comprehensive approach. So far neither the CSDP nor the ESS have generated significant results. In the end, Herman Van Rompuy took the political risk to put the issue of defence on the agenda of the European Council. This resulted in some pretty good conclusions. What about the centre-piece of acting comprehensively and what about a security strategy? Last December our Heads of State and Government where so shy they used very opaque language:

The European Council invites the High Representative, in close cooperation with the Commission, to assess the impact of changes in the global environment, and to report to the Council in the course of 2015 on the challenges and opportunities arising for the Union, following consultations with the Member States.

I hope that now with the Ukrainian crisis everyone reads this sentence as an urgent call for the long awaited genuine European Security Strategy, the prerequisite to act comprehensively.

 

Jo Coelmont

* Brig. Gen. (ret.) Jo Coelmont is an Associate Editor of European Geostrategy. He is also a Senior Associate Fellow for the ‘Europe in the World Programme’ at Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels. Formerly, he was the Belgian Military Representative to the Military Committee of the European Union. He writes here in a personal capacity.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:45
Chad starts pulling peacekeepers from Central African Republic

 

 

07 April 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

Chad began withdrawing its troops from Central African Republic's peacekeeping mission on Friday as a U.N. report accused its soldiers of killing 30 civilians and wounding 300 in an attack on a crowded market last week.

 

Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat denied the allegation, saying the troops had been ambushed by Christian "anti-balaka" militia and had responded.

 

A series of violent incidents involving Chadian troops has stoked fury in the former French colony, culminating in Chad's decision on Thursday to withdraw its troops from the African Union peacekeeping force, known as MISCA.

 

The decision was met with joy in the streets of the capital Bangui on Friday, although the government said in a statement it regretted their withdrawal.

 

"Chadian officers under MISCA command and around 200 soldiers have left in the direction of Chad," Hassan Sylla, Chad's communications minister, said.

 

Chad, the Central African region's dominant military power, had around 850 soldiers serving in the peacekeeping force.

 

Sylla said the first troops left aboard a convoy of a dozen military trucks, escorted to the edge of Bangui by MISCA peacekeepers. French TV news channel France 24 broadcast images of a military plane that had arrived at Bangui's airport to help repatriate the troops.

 

Chadian forces were also preparing to leave the towns of Bossangoa, Kaga Bandoro, Batangafo, Ndele, Bouca and Kabo, Human Rights Watch researcher Peter Bouckaert said on Twitter, raising fears the power vacuum could leave Muslims vulnerable in the inter-communal violence that has killed thousands.

 

Chad's troops have been accused of siding with the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels whose seizure of power last year led to tit-for-tat violence with Christian militia.

 

SURVIVORS

 

The U.N. human rights office carried out a preliminary investigation, interviewing survivors in hospital and visiting the scene of the March 29 attack. Spokesman Rupert Colville said a convoy of pick-up trucks from Chad's regular army entered the market in the capital's PK12 district and started firing.

 

"It allegedly opened fire on the population without any provocation. As people fled in all directions in panic, the soldiers continued to fire indiscriminately," he said.

 

While Chadian troops participate in the African Union force deployed in Central African Republic, the soldiers were not part of the peacekeeping contingent, the investigation found.

 

"At the time of the shooting the market was full of people, including many young women and girls buying and selling produce," Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.

 

Speaking on Radio France Internationale, Chad's Foreign Minister blamed the shooting on Christian militia he said had ambushed the Chadian troops. "Naturally they responded and that provoked an outcry," he said.

 

MISCA General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko also told France 24 the Chadian soldiers acted after being targeted by anti-balaka.

 

Civil society groups had collected 240,000 signatures for a petition seeking the withdrawal of the Chadian troops.

 

"It's exactly what we asked for. The charges against Chadian forces in MISCA are well founded. This is a cause for joy," said Gervais Lakosso, who helped organise the petition.

 

"It seems too good to be true," said a manager at a stationery shop in the capital.

 

The withdrawal is seen as a blow for France, which has deployed 2,000 troops in a bid to restore peace to its former colony, a landlocked nation rich in gold, diamonds and uranium that has seen little but instability since independence in 1960.

 

A new interim civilian government took over from Seleka in January but has struggled to contain the violence.

 

"We've made very clear and the (U.N.) Secretary General has made very clear that there is a desperate need for a good size peacekeeping force," said Colville. "He has requested 10,000 troops in all. We're nowhere near that number at this point."

 

A long-promised European force of 800 troops tasked with securing Bangui's airport and improving security in the capital is due to start deploying by the end of the month.

 

French military spokesman Gilles Jaron said on Friday the new force would be made up of 450 French troops, bringing the total number of French soldiers in the country to 2,450.

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8 avril 2014 2 08 /04 /avril /2014 11:45
African Union peacekeepers in the Central African Republic

African Union peacekeepers in the Central African Republic

 

 

07 April 2014 defenceWeb (Retuers)

 

French and African soldiers serving in Central African Republic are "overwhelmed" by the "state of anarchy" in the country, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday, a day after Chadian troops began withdrawing from the peacekeeping mission.

 

The U.N. Security Council is due to approve next week a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force for the former French colony. The force will take over authority from African Union troops in an attempt to restore order to the country.

 

But that force is not expected to arrive until September, stoking fears of a security vacuum as the interim government struggles to control intercommunal violence that has killed more than 2,000 people since December.

 

During a brief visit to the impoverished country on his way to Rwanda, Ban appealed for more help and said the international community was at risk of repeating the mistakes of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, where some 800,000 died.

 

"I commend the African Union and French forces for making a difference," he said in a speech before the interim government. "But they are under-resourced and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the need."

 

Until the U.N. force can be established, Ban called for "the immediate deployment of more troops and police", though he did not say where he thought the extra forces might come from.

 

A long-promised European Union force is expected to start deploying at the end of this month, adding 800 new troops."The international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago. And we are at risk of not doing enough for the people of the CAR today," Ban said.

 

At the same gathering, the head of the interim government, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, requested an end to a U.N. embargo on arms exports to his country. "That way, the army can play its role," he said.

 

DAYLIGHT STABBING

 

Two thousand French peacekeepers and 6,000 African Union forces have failed to stop a conflict that erupted after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago in the majority Christian state.

 

Christian militias, known as anti-balaka, sprang up to protect the population after Seleka took to looting and killing but now stand accused of human rights abuses themselves and last month were branded as "terrorists" by the African Union.

 

Highlighting the tensions in Bangui, gunshots were heard around noon on Saturday coming from the Seleka barracks, a Reuters witness said. Earlier in the day, Seleka members stabbed a member of the national army, a resident said. It was not clear whether the victim survived.

 

Chad, which has been at the heart of the peacekeeping mission, began withdrawing around 850 troops on Friday after allegations they were involved in attacks on civilians.

 

A U.N. report on Friday accused Chad of killing 30 civilians and wounding 300 in a crowded market, although Chad denied the allegation, saying its troops were ambushed by anti-balaka.

 

"The U.N. report is a pack of lies based on imaginary facts. It contributes to the media campaign against Chad," said government spokesman Hassan Sylla on Saturday.

 

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, plans to visit Central African Republic next week.

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7 avril 2014 1 07 /04 /avril /2014 11:50
EU battlegroups after the Central African Republic crisis: quo vadis?

 

2nd April 2014 by Niklas Novaky * - europeangeostrategy.org

 

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the European Union’s (EU) battlegroup (BG) concept. Despite the approaching milestone, the EU is unlikely to celebrate it with much fanfare. This is because, although the EU has deployed three Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) military crisis management operations since the first battlegroups became operational in January 2005, none of them have been a BG-operation.

 

The future of the BG-concept was subject to heated debate in the run-up to last December’s European Council, where EU heads of state and government focused on CSDP for the first time since the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force in 2009. Over the years, many EU countries have become frustrated by the BGs because using them in crisis situations has proven extremely difficult, although they are often hailed as CSDP’s ‘flagship capability’.

 

The latest opportunity to use them came last year when the security climate in the Central African Republic (CAR) deteriorated. In March 2013, the Séléka group, a loose coalition of Muslim militias, overthrew the CAR government of President François Bozizé. After President Bozizé fled the country, Séléka-leader Michel Djotodia became the country’s President. However, the situation in the country deteriorated further after clashes between various Christian and Muslim groups escalated in the second half of 2013.

 

In order to contribute to the international community’s efforts to stabilise the situation in the CAR, the EU began to consider the option of deploying a BG in November. It was considered that the BGs would be an ideal instrument for providing temporary relief on the ground by stabilising the situation in Bangui, the CAR capital. However, the idea of deploying a BG collapsed quickly.

 

In the second half of 2013, the only BG on standby was led by the United Kingdom (UK). However, Britain’s conservative-led coalition government refused to discuss deploying the BG because it would have been extremely difficult for it to justify using the BG for its Eurosceptic domestic audience. In the first half of 2014, the only BG on standby was led by Greece. However, this BG could not be used either because it lacked financial resources. According to member state officials, Greece was also reluctant to deploy the BG for political reasons; since the country has gone through dramatic cuts to balance its budget, deploying the BG would not have been popular among the Greek public.

 

The EU’s inability to use the BGs in the CAR raises tough questions about the future of the BG concept. Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, for example, expressed recently that ‘there is something fundamentally wrong in the EU’s capabilities’ if the BGs cannot be deployed when there is a clear need to deploy them. Furthermore, Sweden’s Foreign Minter Carl Bildt saw that the Union’s failure to use the BGs in the CAR could even spell the end of the BG concept as we know it.

 

The Nordics’ frustration is not just words. At the Athens informal EU defence ministerial in February, Sweden proposed that EU defence ministers should hold a workshop to study the conditions under which the BG could be deployed in the future. According to Finnish Defence Minister Carl Haglud, this shows that the member states are finally waking up to the reality that the BG concept simply ‘does not work’ in its current form.

 

In the author’s opinion, there are two options for increasing the deployability of EU BGs. The first one is the modularity idea, which was featured in High Representative Catherine Ashton’s annual report on CSDP in October 2013. According to Ashton, BG modularity ‘would allow incorporating the modules provided by the member states most interested in a given crisis, avoiding a too rigid and prescribed composition of the EU BGs, and allowing for more proportionate contributions according to member states’ means’. In other words, rather than having a rigid pre-determined structure, BGs could be assembled from EU member states’ modules on a case-by-case basis.

 

Modularity is an idea worth testing because it would increase the BGs’ flexibility. However, it is unlikely that it would significantly speed up the EU’s military deployment process. This is because the deployment of BGs would still depend on EU member states’ willingness to contribute the required modules, which is not guaranteed to happen. As the case of EUFOR RCA has show, EU member states have difficulties generating enough forces even for a relatively small operation of 1,000 troops. Thus, it is unclear how BG modularity would change the current dynamics in the EU’s force generation process.

 

In order to work, modularity needs to be complemented with second parallel reform, i.e. increasing common funding for possible BG-operations. In the event that the EU decides to launch a BG-operation, the vast majority of the operation’s costs would currently be funded according to the principle of ‘costs lie where they fall’. This means that each member state participating in a BG-operation would be responsible for covering the expenses of its own contingent without external assistance. The only exception to this rule is a small amount of common costs, which are funded through the Athena mechanism.

 

To improve EU member states’ incentives to participate in BG-operations, common funding should be increased significantly. The best-case scenario would be to have the Athena mechanism fund the majority of BG-operations’ costs. This way EU member states would not have to worry about funding issues at the time when they are making a decision on whether or not to contribute modules to a possible BG-operation. In other words, the idea of using a BG should never again collapse because there would not be enough funding for it!

 

Sweden’s proposal to hold a ministerial workshop on EU BGs is a good one, although it is likely that resolving the BGs’ current structural problems will take much more than one workshop. However, if EU member states could implement modularity in an effective way and increase the level of common funding for possible BG operations, the deployability of EU BGs is likely to increase.

 

 

* Mr. Niklas Novaky is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Aberdeen. He is also a Visiting Researcher at the Institute for European Studies, Free University of Brussels. He writes here in a personal capacity.

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3 avril 2014 4 03 /04 /avril /2014 22:45
photo EMA

photo EMA

Chadian troops make up a sizeable part of the African Union's contingent in CAR

 

3 April 2014 BBC Africa

 

Chad is to pull its peacekeepers from an African Union mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) in protest at claims that they aided rebels.

 

A statement from the Chadian foreign ministry said its troops had been criticised despite their sacrifices.

 

Chad has contributed roughly 850 soldiers to a 6,000-strong contingent.

 

Its forces have been accused of siding with Muslim rebels whose ousting of the CAR government last year was followed by a wave of religious violence.

 

The rebels, who call themselves Seleka, seized power last March. Their leader stepped down in January amid spiralling attacks and counter-attacks between groups claiming to represent different faiths.

 

Recently, thousands of Muslims, a minority in CAR, have been fleeing to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon after being targeted by Christian militias.

 

The Chadian statement said its forces had been the victims of "a gratuitous and malicious campaign" to blame them for "all the suffering in CAR".

 

The ousted president of CAR, Francois Bozize, told the BBC last year that Chadian troops had helped drive him from office - a claim that Chad has denied.

 

Last weekend, Chadian forces were blamed for the deaths of 24 people in CAR's capital, Bangui. The troops, however, said they were responding to an attack.

 

The Chadian statement on Thursday said its forces would remain in CAR while the details of the withdrawal were worked out.

 

The African Union contingent in the country is backed up by some 2,000 French troops.

 

 

Analysis Thomas Fessy Thomas Fessy West Africa correspondent

 

Aware of Chad's power to destabilise CAR, some diplomats would argue that it was better to keep the neighbour on board and a part of the UN mission.

 

Others would say a UN mission without Chadian troops would be ideal, but diplomatically impossible to bring about.

 

The most pragmatic would simply argue that at a time when it is proving extremely difficult to cobble together a UN force of 12,000, losing more than 800 troops from the existing mission is not what is needed.

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2 avril 2014 3 02 /04 /avril /2014 07:45
EU military operation in the Central African Republic launched

 

 

Brussels, 1 April 2014 7672/14 (OR. en) PRESSE 149

 

The Council today launched an EU military operation to contribute to a secure environment in the Central African Republic, as authorised by the UN Security Council in resolution 2134 (2014).

 

EUFOR RCA is to provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to a UN peacekeeping operation or to African partners. The force will thereby contribute both to international efforts to protect the populations most at risk and to the creation of the conditions for providing humanitarian aid. EUFOR RCA will operate in Bangui and in the capital's airport.

 

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, said: “The launch of this operation demonstrates the EU’s determination to take full part in international efforts to restore stability and security in Bangui and right across the Central African Republic. It forms a key part of our comprehensive approach to solving the huge challenges faced by the Central African Republic. I’d like to thank all the Member States and non-EU countries which are working together to make this operation a success. It is vital that there is a return to public order as soon as possible, so that the political transition process can be put back on track.”

 

EU military operation in the Central African Republic launched

The force will comprise up to 1000 troops, led by Major-General Philippe Pontiès (France) as EU Operation Commander. Its Operation Headquarters is located in Larissa, Greece, while the Force Headquarters and the troops will be located in Bangui. The common costs of the operation are estimated at € 25.9 million for the preparatory phase and a mandate of up to six months starting from the point of reaching full operational capability.

 

The EUFOR troops will deploy rapidly so as to have immediate effects in the operation's area of responsibility.

 

More information:

Council conclusions on the Central African Republic of 17 March

Factsheet on the Central African Republic

Factsheet on EUFOR RCA

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1 avril 2014 2 01 /04 /avril /2014 16:45
New help puts EU Central African Republic mission back on track

A French soldier in the Central African Republic

 

31 March 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

The commander of a planned European Union peacekeeping force for Central African Republic has decided he now has enough soldiers and equipment to launch the delayed mission after governments came forward with new offers of help, the EU said on Saturday.

 

The EU has drawn up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops struggling to stop a conflict that erupted after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago in the majority Christian state.

 

When the EU initially approved the mission in January, it hoped troops would start arriving by the end of February.

 

But the mission has been held up by the failure of European governments to provide soldiers and equipment.

 

At a meeting in Brussels late on Friday, EU governments and some countries from outside the bloc offered new support for the mission in the areas of strategic airlift and help with deploying the force, the EU said.

 

"On the basis of this significant progress ... the commander of the operation (French Major-General Philippe Ponties) has recommended the launch of the operation," a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

 

The EU gave no details of which countries made the new offers of help.

 

The EU is expected to formally launch the Central African Republic mission on Tuesday, a day before African leaders gather in Brussels for an EU-Africa summit, which will be preceded by a meeting to discuss the situation in Central African Republic.

 

The goal of the EU force will be to provide security in the capital Bangui and at Bangui airport, where around 70,000 people who have fled the violence are living in dire conditions.

 

The EU force will stay for up to six months, before handing over to African Union peacekeepers.

 

France has urged its EU partners to do more to help in its former colony, saying the EU must not shirk its responsibilities for international security.

 

The French and African Union peacekeepers have so far failed to stop violence raging in the landlocked, impoverished country that has killed thousands.

 

Eleven people died in Bangui after a grenade exploded among mourners gathered for a funeral, the Red Cross said on Friday, in what residents said was an attack on Christians.

 

French General Patrick de Rousiers, the EU's top military adviser, told Reuters on Thursday that the EU needed to launch its operation.

 

"This is a profound humanitarian crisis. People are getting slaughtered there. So it is worthwhile that we come and help ... The risks are there, but the 28 European nations have said 'yes we will deploy', so it will happen," he said.

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24 mars 2014 1 24 /03 /mars /2014 17:45
Still many unanswered questions around the Battle for Bangui

 

 

24 March 2014 defenceWeb

 

Saturday marked the first anniversary of the involvement of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements in the ill-fated Battle for Bangui and while medals for bravery and valour have been awarded questions still remain.

 

One who wants public answers about South Africa’s involvement in the Central African Republic (CAR) at and before the time of the battle is David Maynier, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow minister of defence and military veterans.

 

In a statement timed to mark the anniversary, he said the firefight in the CAR capital resulted in the death of 15 South African soldiers who “when the fighting began fought well”.

 

“However, South Africa still does not know what really happened because there has been a deliberate and systematic cover-up of what has become known as ‘CARgate’.”

 

According to him the country has been “offered” a heroic battle narrative focused on the Battle for Bangui.

 

“This is, inevitably, only part of the truth. A proper investigation would almost certainly reveal President Jacob Zuma misled Parliament about the SANDF deployment to CAR and never informed Parliament about subsequent deployments in the DRC.”

 

He also points to intelligence failures and capability gaps, including a lack of suitable transport aircraft as other factors contributing to South African fatalities.

 

“That the operation was not all ‘military precision’ is revealed in leaked documents which provide an insight into the chaos at Joint Operations Command in the early hours of March 24, 2013, as it became clear that five registered/approved companies, contracted to provide air transport services, had no transport aircraft available to lift armoured patrol vehicles, a diesel bowser and more soldiers to the conflict zone.

 

“In the end Force Commander, Colonel William Dixon, and his soldiers from 1 Parachute Battalion and 5 Special Forces Regiment appear to have been left dangling in a deadly firefight, without the necessary support, in a country where they should never have been deployed,” Maynier said.

 

Attempts to establish what exactly happened through channels including the Joint Standing Committee on Defence as well as setting up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the SANDF involvement in CAR came to nothing.

 

“We know the SANDF conducted an internal review of the CAR deployment. We also know the SANDF convened three boards of enquiry relating to CARgate, including one to investigate the loss of controlled items, including weapons and vehicles. These documents have never seen the light of day and the findings have never been shared with the Joint Standing Committee on Defence.

 

“It was the greatest military disaster in the history of democratic South Africa. Yet a year later we are still none the wiser about what really happened in CAR,” Maynier said. Thirteen soldiers died in the firefight and anther two succumbed to their wounds.

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24 mars 2014 1 24 /03 /mars /2014 16:45
U.N. official says 'terrifying' level of hatred in Central African Republic

 

 

24 March 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

Hatred between Christians and Muslims in Central African Republic has reached a "terrifying level", the U.N.'s top human rights official said on Thursday, warning that atrocities were being carried out with impunity.

 

Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, appealed to the international community to urgently provide troops for a proposed 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission to halt crimes which she said included acts of cannibalism and decapitation of children.

 

France has deployed 2,000 troops to its former colony to support a 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission but they have been unable to stamp out the violence in the large, sparsely populated nation of 4.5 million people.

 

"The inter-communal hatred remains at a terrifying level, as evidenced by the extraordinarily vicious nature of the killings," Pillay told a news conference. "There is ... almost total impunity: no justice, no law and order apart from that provided by foreign troops."

 

Thousands have been killed since the Seleka, a coalition of mostly Muslim northern rebels, seized power a year ago in the southern capital Bangui and launched a campaign of looting, torture and killing in the majority Christian country.

 

That triggered a wave of reprisals by the 'anti-Balaka' Christian militia last year which has driven tens of thousands of Muslims from Bangui, the south and west of the country.

 

During a two day visit, Pillay held talks with interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, who took office after Seleka leader Michel Djotodia resigned in January under international pressure. Government officials frankly admitted there was no functioning army or police, no justice system and no means of holding those responsible for violence, she said.

 

"People apprehended with blood on their machetes and severed body parts in their hands have been allowed to go free because there is nowhere to detain them and no means to charge them with the crimes they have clearly committed," Pillay said.

 

BREEDING GROUND FOR EXTREMISM

 

Around 15,000 Muslims are still trapped in Bangui and other areas in the north, north-west and south of the country, protected by international forces, Pillay said.

 

While large scale massacres appeared to have stopped, thanks largely to the foreign troops, killings continue on a daily basis, mostly by the 'anti-balaka' militia. Pillay said some of the militia were mutating into criminal gangs, targeting Christians and other non-Muslims indiscriminately.

 

The United Nations estimates some 650,000 people have been displaced within Central African Republic, while nearly 300,000 have fled to neighboring states. U.N. agencies have reported a sharp rise in rape and sexual violence in the camps.

 

With the rainy season approaching next month and farmers unable to plant their crops, aid groups warn that the humanitarian crisis may worsen.

 

Pillay urged donors to quickly provide funding for a $551 million humanitarian appeal, which she said was only one-fifth financed, warning that the international community should learn the lessons of inter-communal crises in the Balkans and Rwanda.

 

"If we get it wrong again, by failing to support this country wholeheartedly in its time of need, we risk decades of instability and the creation of a new and fertile breeding ground for religious extremism, not just in CAR but in the wider region," she said.

 

France accused the European Union of shirking its responsibility for international security last week after E.U. officials said member states had not pledged enough troops and equipment for a planned 1,000-strong force. Brussels now hopes to deploy the forces by the end of next month.

 

"How many more children have to be decapitated, how many more women and girls will be raped, how many more acts of cannibalism must there be, before we really sit up and pay attention?" Pillay said.

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19 mars 2014 3 19 /03 /mars /2014 17:50
Ukraine crisis hampers EU's Central African Republic mission

 

 

18 March 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

The Ukraine crisis is hampering the European Union's plans to send a peacekeeping force to Central African Republic because nervous eastern European countries want to keep their troops at home rather than send them to Africa, diplomats said on Friday.

 

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.

 

But the plan has been jeopardized by the failure of European governments to provide key soldiers and equipment for the force, EU sources said on Thursday.

 

EU diplomats said that there was a link between the problems facing the Central African Republic force and the crisis in Ukraine, where Russian forces have occupied the Crimea region, raising tensions throughout the region.

 

"It is clear that the situation in Ukraine has impacted on the willingness of some of the likely contributors both in the EU and outside the EU to be necessarily ready to deploy to Central African Republic," one diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

 

"There are some potential troop contributors, both eastern European EU states and ... partners of the EU, that were considering troop contributions (but) firming that up as a definite deployment hasn't yet happened and one would assume it's because it's an unstable neighborhood," he said.

 

A second EU diplomatic source said the Ukraine crisis was "not a facilitating factor" when it came to raising troops for the EU mission to Central African Republic.

 

Neither diplomat could give specific examples of how the Ukraine crisis had affected the EU's plans but Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and non-EU member Georgia are among countries reported to be considering contributing to the force.

 

SECURITY IN CAPITAL

 

The goal of the EU force would be to provide security in the capital Bangui and at Bangui airport, where around 70,000 people who have fled the violence are living in dire conditions.

 

The EU has so far held four conferences at which EU governments and some countries from outside the 28-nation EU offered troops and equipment for the operation.

 

But there are still gaps in essential areas, such as infantry units, headquarters staff and logistics, leading the commander of the force, French Major-General Philippe Ponties, to conclude he does not yet have the resources necessary to launch the mission, EU officials said.

 

Failure to send the force to Africa 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.

 

France urged its EU partners to do more to help the operation on Friday, saying the EU must not shirk its responsibilities for international security.

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17 mars 2014 1 17 /03 /mars /2014 16:45
France says EU shirking duty to Central African Republic

 

 

17 March 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

France said on Friday the European Union was shirking its responsibilities for international security after an EU plan to send up to 1,000 troops to Central African Republic next week seemed to be about to collapse.

 

The EU had proposed sending 800 to 1,000 soldiers to the former French colony to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops, who have struggled to stop fighting that started a year ago when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian state.

 

However, EU sources said on Thursday the plan was in jeopardy because European governments had not provided the soldiers and equipment they promised.

 

In a blunt joint statement from France's foreign and defense ministers, Paris "strongly" urged its partners to do more.

 

"The EU must not shirk its responsibilities with regard to international security," Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the respective ministers, said. "It has to be said ... despite contributions announced by some European states, the total falls short."

READ MORE

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Red Cross worker killed in Central African Republic

 

 

Referring to an EU promise announced on February 10, the ministers said: "If additional contributions do not materialize rapidly, it will not be possible to launch this vital operation next week as planned."

 

Failure to launch the mission would be an embarrassment for the EU, which has been trying to burnish its credentials as a security organization, and a setback for France, which has called for more solidarity for its efforts in the Central Africa Republic.

 

France has already been forced to send 400 more troops to help combat the crisis with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon pleading for more swift, robust international help to stop sectarian violence that could turn into genocide.

 

The Security Council last week discussed a proposal for a nearly 12,000-strong peacekeeping force with a resolution expected to be drawn up by France later this month.

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17 mars 2014 1 17 /03 /mars /2014 07:45
US donates 37 vehicles to Central African Republic

 

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.

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14 mars 2014 5 14 /03 /mars /2014 20:45
EU mission in Central African Republic suffers setback

 

14.03.2014 EurActiv.com (Reuters)

 

A European Union plan to deploy peacekeepers in the Central African Republic is in jeopardy because of the failure of European governments to provide soldiers and equipment, EU sources said on Thursday (13 March).

 

The EU has drawn up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to the 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 organisation, and a setback for France, which has called for more European support for its efforts in Central African Republic.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote to governments on 11 March, 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.

 

Consequences

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. Key equipment and troops were still lacking, the source said, adding that about 80 percent of the required soldiers had been pledged.

Based on this situation, the force's French commander, Major-General Philippe Ponties, concluded 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 UN," 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.

 

‘Stabilisation’ measures

Together with other international donors, the EU has pledged €366 million to the CAR in January, looking to balance short-term security and "stabilisation" measures, with humanitarian and development aid programmes. These include short-term relief, as well as the restoration of basic services and cash-for-work programmes.

The European Commission also decided to increase its humanitarian support to €45 million in 2014, based on a study of the needs in the region, including shelter, health, protection from violence, water, sanitation and hygiene. The European Union gave €76 million in 2013, with €39 million coming from the Commission.

 

>> Read: Donors pledge $496 million to Central African Republic

 
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1 février 2014 6 01 /02 /février /2014 13:45
EU to announce new support for security and elections in the Central African Republic

 

 

31/1/2014 EU source: European Commission Ref: EC14-020EN

 

Summary: 31 January 2014, Brussels - EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, has announced that the European Commission stands ready to give new support in the range of €25 million to the African Union-led operation in the Central African Republic, (Mission Internationale de Soutien à la Centrafrique sous Conduite Africaine, MISCA), based on a request to be done by the African Union. The announcement was done ahead of a donors' conference in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to mobilise resources for MISCA.

 

Subject to an on-going evaluation of the current needs, the EU also stands ready to support the electoral process in the CAR with around €20 million. This new support will go towards putting in place voter registration, electoral operations (such as printing ballot papers, providing training, equipment and staff, as well as voter education) and involving civil society groups as domestic observers.

"This new funding will bring the EU's total commitments to the Central African Republic since the beginning of the crisis to around €200 million - a clear indication that we are mobilising all available resources, not just development aid, to help the people of the Central African Republic and improve their security, in a situation that has been getting worse for more than a year now", Commissioner Piebalgs said.

He added: "The MISCA support mission is a cornerstone for stabilising the country; protecting the local population and creating the conditions needed for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reform of the security sector."

High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton said: "Together with our partners, the European Union will remain actively engaged in supporting the stabilization of the Central African Republic. We will do all we can to help the new authorities to implement the transition agreement."

This new funding for MISCA, which is subject to usual decision-making processes, will allow the extension of the already-announced €50 million of EU support. It covers the costs of allowances, accommodation and food for troops deployed in the field, as well as the salaries of civilian MISCA personnel and various operational costs such as transport, communication or medical services. The EU also calls on other potential donors to follow and respond to the call of the African Union. Although it has slowed down considerably due to the security and institutional situation, the development cooperation of the European Union has never been suspended in the Central African Republic (CAR). Creating jobs through road maintenance projects, the management of public finances and the restoration of an operational policy that protects the population are among the ongoing priorities of EU cooperation with the country.

To this end, projects worth €23 million are already being mobilised using funds from the 10th European Development Fund, while implementation is underway for a €10 million stabilisation package under the EU's Instrument for Stability. The immediate priority, once security is restored, will be to support the process of transition towards the restoration of democratic institutions and the provision of basic social services to the population.

In addition, given the immediate humanitarian needs, Commissioner Piebalgs recently announced the mobilisation of an additional €10 million from the European Development Fund for humanitarian assistance to the CAR. The EU is the largest provider of relief assistance to the country, providing €76 million in 2013.

 

Background

The security situation in the CAR, particularly in Bangui, has been temporarily stabilised thanks to the French military operation Sangaris and the deployment since 19 December of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, MISCA. Nonetheless, the situation remains extremely concerning, volatile and fragile.

The Council of the European Union, convinced of the importance of supporting African efforts and stepping up EU involvement in the CAR as part of its overall approach, agreed last week (20 January) on a future EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) military operation. The operation will provide temporary support, for a period of up to six months, to help to achieve a secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to the AU.

The Central African Republic ranks among the world's poorest countries and has been embroiled in a decade-long armed conflict. The surge of violence in December 2013 exacerbated this situation and today half of the 4.6-million-strong population is in need of immediate aid.

Almost a million people have been internally displaced, half of them in the capital Bangui alone. More than 245,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Commissioner Piebalgs made today's announcements following his participation in the 22nd African Union summit in Ethiopia, from 30-31st January. The summit presented a key opportunity for the EU and the African Union to meet ahead of the 4th Africa-EU Summit, which will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014.

The Brussels summit will be held under the theme "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace". It is expected to mark a further significant step forward for the partnership between the EU and Africa in these three areas.

 

For more information

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Website of the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

Website of the African Peace Facility:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/acp/regional-cooperation/peace/index_fr.htm

Council conclusions on the Central African Republic (original version - FR)

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/140666.pdf

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9 décembre 2013 1 09 /12 /décembre /2013 11:45
UK support to international response in Central African Republic

 

6 December 2013 Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence

 

Foreign Secretary announces UK air transport assistance to France for Central African Republic.

 

On 5th December, with strong UK support, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2127 authorising the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA), and the deployment of French forces to give assistance. The Mission will contribute to the protection of civilians, the restoration of public order, and the stabilisation of CAR at a critical moment.

 

Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

 

    The UN Security Council made an important decision yesterday to authorise African Union and French troops to respond to the security and humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic.

 

    We are determined to play our part in helping to address the violence. We have therefore agreed with the Government of France that we will help move French equipment to CAR by means of a UK C-17 transport aircraft. Three separate flights will take place this month, with the first one due to land in CAR shortly.

 

    This comes on top of £10 million in UK aid announced on 30 November. Having already contributed £5 million in July, the United Kingdom is now one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the people of CAR. We will continue to work alongside the International Red Cross and UN agencies to help thousands of people gain access to food, water, shelter, sanitation and healthcare to alleviate the desperate humanitarian suffering.

 

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19 novembre 2013 2 19 /11 /novembre /2013 19:45
U.N. preparing for possible Central African Republic peacekeeping force

 

19 November 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

The United Nations is preparing to possibly deploy peacekeepers to Central African Republic, but if the crisis there worsens quickly before such a force is ready, it could redeploy troops from nearby U.N. missions, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Monday.

 

The landlocked, mineral-rich nation of 4.6 million people has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital, Bangui, in March and ousted President Francois Bozize. Rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.

 

There is currently a 2,500-strong regional peacekeeping force in Central African Republic that was deployed by the Economic Community of Central African States. Ban said the African Union is due to take charge of that force in December and boost its size to 3,600 troops.

 

Ban said the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States have signaled their support for eventually transforming the African Union force into a U.N. peacekeeping operation, but not in the immediate future as they want a chance to try and combat the crisis first.

 

"I have instructed the (U.N.) Secretariat to prepare plans accordingly, pending a decision of the Security Council," Ban wrote in a report to the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

 

"Should there be a precipitous deterioration in the situation in the Central African Republic, the United Nations could also respond on an emergency basis, once authorized by the Security Council and the relevant troop-contributing countries, by drawing on assets as well as troops from neighboring peacekeeping missions," he said.

 

Central African Republic is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium, but decades of instability and the spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbors have left the country mired in cycles of crises.

 

Senior U.N. officials have warned that Central African Republic is at risk of spiraling into genocide, as armed groups incite Christians and Muslims against each other in the virtually lawless country.

 

"While the conflict was not, at its origin, a religious or ethnic one, the increasing attacks and indiscriminate retaliations have created a climate of deep suspicion between Christians and Muslims in some areas of the country," Ban said.

 

"Further tensions between communities, including through the political manipulation of these fears, might well lead to uncontrollable sectarian violence with untold consequences for the country, the sub-region and beyond," he said.

 

RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT

 

Ban said the African force, which has been mandated by the African Union for six months, faces significant operational challenges and will need a lot of external support.

 

He presented four support options in his report, ranging from financial and logistical support for an African mission from individual countries and regional organizations to a comprehensive U.N. support package funded through assessed contributions.

 

A fifth option presented was the transformation of the African force into a full-scale U.N. peacekeeping mission. Ban said such a force would have an initial strength of 6,000 troops with the option of increasing that to 9,000 if the situation worsened. The force would also include 1,700 police.

 

"The United Nations force operate under robust rules of engagement with a mandate to use all necessary means to deny armed groups freedom of movement and access to the major cities," Ban said.

 

But he added that a number of conditions would need to be in place for a U.N. peacekeeping mission to be deployed, including the political framework for a transition and for the transitional government to distinguish between forces who represent the state and those who do not.

 

French diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they planned to propose in December a U.N. Security Council resolution - based on Ban's report - to provide support for the African Union peacekeeping force.

 

Security Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a final decision on whether to deploy a new U.N. peacekeeping force in Africa would not be made until after the African Union troops have a chance to try and pacify the situation in Central African Republic.

 

"Member States of the United Nations now have the opportunity, and I firmly believe the responsibility, to prevent what has the high potential to result in widespread atrocities," Ban said.

 

"On the basis of the options presented in this report, I call on the Council to authorize immediate and collective action to protect the civilian population from further violence and attacks," he wrote.

 

The Security Council last month approved a proposal by Ban to send 560 military personnel to Central African Republic to guard the U.N. Integrated Peacebuilding Office, a political mission known as BINUCA.

 

France has a small force in Bangui securing the airport and its local interests. French diplomatic sources have said France would be ready to provide logistical support and increase its troop numbers to between 700 and 1,200 if needed.

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11 octobre 2013 5 11 /10 /octobre /2013 16:45
U.N. Security Council asks for Central African peacekeeping options

11 October 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday urging the United Nations to consider establishing a full-fledged peacekeeping force in virtually lawless Central African Republic.

 

The landlocked, mineral-rich Central African Republic, or CAR, has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital, Bangui, and ousted President Francois Bozize in March. U.N. officials and rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.

 

"Your vote provides a glimmer of hope for the 4.6 million men, women and children in the CAR," CAR's U.N. Ambassador Charles Armel Doubane told the council after the vote.

 

Last month French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that CAR risked becoming a new Somalia if it did not get immediate support.

 

The resolution adopted by the 15-member council calls on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report within 30 days that would outline possible international support to a planned African Union peacekeeping mission to CAR known as MISCA.

 

The resolution says Ban's report should include "detailed options for international support to MISCA, including the possible option of a transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation, subject to appropriate conditions on the ground."

 

"Obviously the challenges are well beyond their means," French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters. "So the idea is the African force will be to provide robust support to the efforts of the central government to re-establish the authority of the state."

 

The council voiced serious concern at "violations of international humanitarian law and the widespread human rights violations and abuses, notably by Seleka elements," and demanded "that the Seleka elements and all other armed groups lay down their arms immediately."

 

France, which intervened this year to oust Islamist rebels from another of its former colonies, Mali, has been reluctant to get directly involved in the crisis. It has urged African nations and the African Union to do their utmost to resolve the crisis among themselves.

 

But while the African Union plans to deploy the 3,600-strong MISCA peacekeeping mission in the country, incorporating a regional force of 1,100 soldiers already on the ground, it is unlikely to be operational before 2014.

 

OVERSHADOWED BY SYRIA

 

A report by Human Rights Watch in New York describes what it says was Seleka's deliberate killing of civilians, including women and children, between March and June of this year and its deliberate destruction of more than 1,000 homes.

 

Some Western diplomats say the situation in CAR is too fragile to permit the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force in the foreseeable future.

 

U.N. officials and diplomats say the crisis in CAR has failed to generate much international interest, having been overshadowed by other conflicts such as the Syrian civil war.

 

The African Union had asked for financial, logistical and technical support from the United Nations, and senior U.N. officials have recommended that the Security Council approve this request.

 

The council resolution also called for increased support for the U.N. Integrated Peacebuilding Office, or BINUCA, allowing it to go beyond Bangui and providing it with rights observers to investigate and report on human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and children.

 

It suggests the possibility of taking "appropriate measures" - diplomatic code for sanctions - against those who undermine stability and security in the country.

 

France has a small force in Bangui securing the airport and its local interests. French diplomatic sources have said Paris would be ready to provide logistical support and increase its troop numbers to between 700 and 750 if needed.

 

French Foreign Minister Fabius will travel to Bangui on Sunday to assess the situation, a French diplomatic source said on Tuesday.

 

Michel Djotodia, who swept to power at the head of CAR's rebellion, was officially sworn in as the country's president this year. But he has failed to contain waves of looting and killing by gunmen.

 

CAR is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium, but decades of instability and the spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbors have left the country's 4.5 million people mired in cycles of crises.

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27 septembre 2013 5 27 /09 /septembre /2013 16:45
France pushes for U.N. action on Central African Republic

26 September 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

France's foreign minister called on Wednesday for the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution next month to boost U.N. operations in the Central African Republic, which he said risked becoming a new Somalia if it did not get immediate support.

 

The landlocked, mineral-rich Central African Republic, or CAR, has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital, Bangui, and ousted President Francois Bozize in March. U.N. officials and rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.

 

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius co-hosted a meeting with the European Union and U.N. humanitarian affairs officials on Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness for a crisis that has struggled to galvanize international interest, shadowed by other conflicts such as the Syrian civil war, Reuters reports.

 

"CAR has become a lawless state and in a lawless state, the exactions increase and without any action it can become the refuge of all terrorists," Fabius told reporters, having earlier told delegates that radical Islamist groups were already operating in the country.

 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the meeting on the Central African Republic that the United States was "deeply alarmed" by the prospect of the country becoming a safe haven for violent extremists.

 

"The devastating events in Kenya the last few days only underscore how terrorist groups and other extremists take advantage of lawless or ungoverned spaces," said Power, referring to the deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall on Saturday claimed by Somali Islamist militants.

 

She said the situation in the Central African Republic "constitutes a terrible human tragedy and a threat to international peace and security, and that merits the full and immediate prioritization and attention of the international community at the highest levels."

 

The country's former colonial power, France - which intervened earlier this year to oust Islamist rebels from another one of its former colonies, Mali - has been reluctant to get directly involved in the crisis. It has urged African nations and the African Union to do their utmost to resolve the crisis among themselves.

 

But while the African Union plans to deploy a 3,600-strong peacekeeping mission - known as MISCA - in the country, incorporating a regional force of 1,100 soldiers already on the ground, it is unlikely to be operational before 2014.

 

The African Union has asked financial, logistical and technical support from the United Nations, and senior U.N. officials recommended last month that the U.N. Security Council approve this request.

 

'TOMORROW WILL BE TOO LATE'

 

France plans to draft a resolution to put to the Security Council in October to increase support for the U.N. Integrated Peacebuilding Office, or BINUCA, in the Central African Republic, allowing it to go beyond Bangui, providing it with rights observers and asking U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report on how to move forward.

 

Paris then wants a second resolution to give U.N. backing to the African Union force and ultimately would like the African mission to be turned into a U.N. peacekeeping force.

 

It was unclear how quickly a deal could be reached on a first resolution because French diplomats said some Security Council members were hesitant to move forward because of questions on financing and responsibility for the mission.

 

"I think that the large majority of the Security Council are in favor, but the modalities still need to be explained," Fabius said, adding financing could be raised through donations.

 

Power said the United States strongly favored the deployment of the African Union peacekeeping force and was "exploring ways to furnish bilateral technical and financial aid." She said Washington also supported boosting BINUCA.

 

"It is both vital and urgent that other states join in backing this effort, whether with money or troop contributions to the AU mission," she told the meeting, according to a transcript of her remarks.

 

France has a small force in Bangui securing the airport and its local interests. French diplomatic sources have said Paris would be ready to provide logistical support and increase its troop numbers to 700 to 750 men if needed.

 

Michel Djotodia, who swept to power at the head of the rebellion, was officially sworn in as the country's president last month, but he has failed to contain waves of looting and killing by gunmen.

 

CAR is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium, but decades of instability and the spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbors have left the country's 4.5 million people mired in cycles of crises.

 

"It is now more important than ever to react because each day that passes endangers the country even more," CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye said. "We have to act now because tomorrow will be too late."

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19 septembre 2013 4 19 /09 /septembre /2013 16:45
Central African Republic peace force not to fully deploy before 2014

18 September 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)

 

Reinforcements have begun arriving for an African peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic but the planned 3,600-strong force will not be fully deployed before 2014, an official involved in talks on the crisis said.

 

The land-locked, mineral-rich nation has slipped into chaos since northern rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March. U.N. officials and rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes in the violence.

 

Former colonial power France has called on world powers to take action to prevent the country following Somalia's path to decades of lawlessness and efforts are focusing on beefing up a 1,100-strong African force that has long been deployed, Reuters reports.

 

"The force will reach 2,000 soldiers (in September) and hit 3,600 by January 2014," an official who took part in regional meetings hosted by Gabon told Reuters on Tuesday.

 

Further meetings are due to take place in Gabon later this week to decide on the leadership and make up of the force.

 

Moussa Fati Mahamat, Chad's foreign minister, said the force, to be known as MISCA, will have an African Union mandate to carry out more robust operations than the existing mission operated under Central Africa's CEEAC regional bloc.

 

Michel Djotodia, who swept to power at the head of the rebellion, was officially sworn in as the country's president last month but he has failed to contain waves of looting and killing by gunmen.

 

Djotodia last week sacked the head of the armed forces after days of clashes with fighters loyal to Bozize killed 100 people.

 

CAR is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium but decades of instability and the spillover from conflicts in its larger neighbors have left the nation's 4.5 million people mired in cycles of crises.

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11 septembre 2013 3 11 /09 /septembre /2013 12:45
Central African Republic army chief sacked

11 September 2013 BBC Africa

 

The Central African Republic army chief has been sacked after forces loyal to the deposed president launched a new offensive.

 

At least 60 people have been killed in the fighting north-west of the capital, according to officials.

 

Former rebel leader Michel Djotodia was sworn in as president earlier this month after his forces ousted Francois Bozize in March.

 

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10 juillet 2013 3 10 /07 /juillet /2013 17:45
Senegalese general leads CAR peace-building efforts

 

10 July 2013 by defenceWen/UN

 

Senegalese General Babacar Gaye has been appointed as the United Nations Secretary General’s top envoy in the Central African Republic (CAR), where he also heads BINUCA, the UN integrated peace-building office in the country.

 

Since arriving in the capital Bangui his mandate is to “pursue the necessary assistance to put in place needed priorities and build a foundation for sustainable development”.

 

The Senegalese general said that 1,2 million people have been cut off from essential services since the Séléka rebel coalition launched its offensive last December. “Human rights violations have also been widespread,” he said.

 

He added he would work within the four priority axes of intervention set down for the CAR by the UN. They are restoration of security, respect for human rights, humanitarian assistance and the re-launch of political dialogue.

 

“I intend to meet with political stakeholders, civil society and representatives the CAR’s partners. I also intend to make contact with the authorities of neighbouring countries and religious and international partners.”

 

BINUCA’s conversion in January 2010 to an ‘integrated’ mission was designed to ensure coherence of peace-building support activities by various UN entities present in the CAR.

 

Early in the current crisis, a peace accord known as the Libreville Agreement was signed on January 11 in Gabon. It called for the establishment of National Transitional Council that would elect a transitional government.

 

The rebels, claiming the Government was not complying with its obligations under the accord, continued to gain territory and overran Bangui in late March.

 

This was part of what has become known as the Battle for Bangui which saw 15 South African soldiers killed.

 

More than four million people, almost half children, have been directly affected by the crisis and more than 37 000 people have fled the country in the past four months due to violence.

 

Prior to his appointment in BINUCA, Lieutenant General Gaye served as Assistant Secretary-General and Military Advisor for Peacekeeping Operations

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