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Central African Republic: Whose Responsibility to Protect?
November 27, 2013 (131127)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
In the Central African Republic, the scale of the humanitarian
crisis is undeniable; the threat of even greater escalation of
violence and chaos is real. And there is a consensus that greater
international action is essential. But the questions of who does
what when, and who pays, remain unanswered. France is sending
additional troops to reinforce the African peacekeeping force now
in place, but the processes for funding and coordinating African
Union and United Nations multilateral actions are still in slow-motion
The scenario seems familiar. There are multiple international
agencies involved, including regional African groups, the African
Union, and the United Nations. There is an agreed need to act. The
resources involved to date are admittedly not up to the task. But,
so far, at least, there is a failure to agree on and fund a more
comprehensive UN presence with a clear mandate, adequate resources,
and the capacity to coordinate other multilateral initiatives. The
predictable outcome: action that is too little and too late, with
short-term bilateral initiatives that lack full accountability to
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains the November 25 briefing by the
UN Deputy Secretary General to the Security Council, as well as an
article from Inter Press Service with relevant background.
For current news, see http://allafrica.com/centralafricanrepublic
and, in French, http://fr.allafrica.com/centralafricanrepublic
Organizations with extensive additional background and recent
updates on the Central African Republic include
Human Rights Watch
International Crisis Group
http://www.crisisgroup.org / http://tinyurl.com/o94e79h
An International Crisis Group report from June 2013 provides
extensive background not only on recent developments but also on
the preceding decade of rule by President François Bozizé, whose
regime was supported in part by French and South African troops.
UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks
Good summaries of recent situation on the ground.
Key UN documents on the CAR are available at
http://www.securitycouncilreport.org / http://tinyurl.com/pjtj9on
For a call by the Friends Committee on National Legislation
(http://fcnl.org) for the U.S. to pay the U.S. costs for UN
peacekeeping in the Central African Republic, see
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Confrontation could spark conflagration in Central African
republic, warns Deputy Secretary-General, spelling out options for
25 November 2013
Department of Public Information * News and Media Division * New
Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson's briefing to
the Security Council on the situation in the Central African
I thank the Council for this opportunity to brief you on the
rapidly deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic.
We face a profoundly important test of international solidarity and
of our responsibility to prevent atrocities. A country in the
heart of Africa is descending into complete chaos before our eyes.
The situation requires prompt and decisive action to place
protection of the people of the Central African Republic in the
That is why the Secretary-General issued a strong warning to this
Council last week. And that is why he has asked me to present a
detailed report to you today on the findings of the Technical
Assistance Mission that has recently returned from the Central
African Republic, and on our observations on these findings. He
has in the last few days also been in contact with African leaders
who have expressed their concern of the situation and the need for
a robust international response to it.
As that report shows, the country faces a desperate security
situation. There is a breakdown of law and order. The population
is enduring suffering beyond imagination. As we see far too often,
children and women are at the greatest risk. Human rights
violations are mounting. The use of child soldiers is rising.
Sexual violence is growing. There are widespread reports of
looting, illegal checkpoints, extortion, arbitrary arrests, torture
and summary executions.
The Secretary-General is particularly concerned over the alarming
increase in inter-communal violence. Traditional harmony among
communities has been replaced by polarization and widespread
horror. The manipulation of religious affiliations for political
purposes has fuelled never-before-seen sectarian violence between
Muslims and Christians, particularly in the north-west and southeast
of the country. Former Seleka elements are deemed responsible
for most human rights violations against the civilian population.
Yet, we are also deeply concerned by abuses by "anti-balaka"
well-organized self-defence or vigilante groups. This
confrontation may develop into a conflagration.
The influence of religious leaders to prevent violence is
diminishing, as the conflict has brought to light years of
marginalization and discrimination against the northern,
predominantly Muslim, population. I welcome the efforts by the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Babacar Gaye, and
the transitional authorities to establish mediation and
reconciliation committees and take other steps to find practical
solutions and to defuse tension in Bossangoa and elsewhere.
As recognized by the Council in resolution 2121 (2013), the human
rights capacity of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding
Office [in the Central African Republic] (BINUCA) is sorely
inadequate. It is also hampered by a lack of access in the present
security climate. We welcome the upcoming deployment of a United
Nations human rights monitoring mission, as well as a planned joint
mission by the offices of the Special Representative on Sexual
Violence in Conflict and the Special Representative for Children
and Armed Conflict.
In his report, the Secretary-General calls for urgent measures to
end the pervasive impunity and to ensure accountability. I appeal
to the Council to respond creatively to this end, including by
considering accountability mechanisms such as a commission of
inquiry and/or targeted sanctions.
At the same time, humanitarian needs are escalating. Virtually the
entire population — 4.6 million people — has been affected by the
emergency. One out of three people in the country is in dire need
of food, protection, health care, water, sanitation and shelter.
Access to populations in need remains difficult — and funding is
woefully short. The Consolidated Appeal of $195 million has
received less than half of the funding required. And the needs
keep rising. Our humanitarian colleagues have developed a sixpoint
action plan to mobilize at the global, regional, national and
local levels, and I call for an urgent response to this
The restoration of security, law and order is the precondition for
addressing the political, human rights and humanitarian problems.
The capacity of the country's armed forces and security services to
prevent and confront such threats is virtually non-existent.
According to the Ministry of Defence, nearly 7,000 of the Forces
armées centrafricaines have returned to Bangui but are neither
deployed nor operational. Former Seleka units have assumed the
responsibility of the national defence and security forces.
Further, some 5,000 former Seleka are to be integrated into the
However, there is no agreed plan or agreed budget for the
reconstitution of the national security forces. The Central
African Republic is becoming a breeding ground for extremists and
armed groups in a region that is already suffering from conflict
and instability. If this situation is left to fester, it may
develop into a religious and ethnic conflict with long-standing
consequences, even a civil war that could spread into neighbouring
countries. It is critical for the international community and the
Council to act now.
The need for decisive action is also essential for ensuring that
preparations for the elections can proceed in accordance with the
Transitional Charter. As reiterated by the Council and the
International Contact Group, the elections should be held within 18
months of the inauguration of the Head of State of the Transition,
that is, by February 2015, and we have no time to lose.
In response to Security Council resolution 2121 (2013), the
Secretary-General dispatched an interagency Technical Assessment
Mission to the Central African Republic from 27 October to 8
November, led by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations, Edmond Mulet, present here today.
The Mission was tasked to develop options for international support
to the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR,
(MISCA), including its possible transformation into a United
Nations peacekeeping operation, subject to appropriate conditions
on the ground and to the decision of the Security Council.
We thank the African Union and the Economic Community of Central
African States (ECCAS), who were a critical part of the mission,
and we are gratified that the African Union is represented here
today by Ambassador [Adonia] Ayebare and, of course, we have the
presence of the Secretary-General of ECCAS, Ahmad Allam-Mi, here
today. And I also thank the authorities of the Central African
Republic for welcoming the Mission. I am pleased to see them here
The African Union and ECCAS agree that there is an urgent need for
the international community to act, and that a United Nations
peacekeeping mandate with a robust mandate will be required. In
recent days, the Secretary-General has had, as I mentioned earlier,
productive discussions with the African Union Commission
Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the President of Chad, Idriss
Déby Itno, and Ahmad Allam-Mi, to underline his deep concerns about
the situation and his agreement with them that a strong
peacekeeping force is needed in the Central African Republic.
While in the country, the Mission listened to a wide range of
national and international stakeholders and they were unanimous in
their calls for rapid action, including deployment of an effective
and impartial force to protect civilians, deter human rights
violations, restore security and prevent the occurrence of mass
The Mission observed that, despite its best efforts, the capacity
of the ECCAS-led peacekeeping force — MICOPAX [Mission for the
Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic] — to
protect civilians is seriously limited. While the recent
deployment of MICOPAX has had a deterrent effect in some locations,
some contingents are perceived as siding with particular
communities based on religion. MICOPAX troops are also struggling
with limited logistical support — , lacking equipment and means of
communication — as well as with mobility constraints.
Significant external support would therefore be required to enable
MISCA to implement its mandate and stabilize the situation. The
report before you presents five options for international support
i) bilateral and multilateral support arrangements;
ii) United Nations support funded through a trust fund in addition
to bilateral and multilateral support;
iii) limited United Nations support funded through assessed and
voluntary contributions, combined with bilateral and multilateral
iv) a comprehensive United Nations support package funded through
assessed contributions; and lastly
v) the transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping
A majority of those with whom the Mission met called for the fifth
option, a United Nations peacekeeping operation. Support for this
option has also been requested by a number of civil society
The transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping
operation, with an estimated strength of 6,000 troops and 1,700
police personnel, would lay the foundation for transparent,
accountable and resilient institutions. A United Nations
peacekeeping operation would ensure a multidimensional, integrated
approach and enhance the international community's ability to apply
political leverage, we would hope.
Since the Mission was deployed and the Secretary-General's report
before you was issued, the Head of State of the Transition has
written to inform the Secretary-General of his request for
assistance from France. The Head of State of the Transition has
characterized the current situation as a threat to international
peace and security.
The virtual meltdown in the Central African Republic requires a
coherent, integrated and multidimensional response, which will
address both the root causes and the present manifestations of the
crisis. In the Secretary-General's assessment, the response must
be commensurate with the complexity of the crisis and the desperate
protection needs of the population. It must be robust and prevent
what has a high potential to result in widespread atrocities.
The Secretary-General has recently renewed the commitment of the
United Nations to uphold our responsibilities whenever there is a
threat of serious and large-scale violations of international human
rights and humanitarian law. He is committed to bringing to the
attention of the appropriate United Nations bodies such serious
violations, in particular when national authorities are unable to
respond. Reporting to you today is part of this commitment to
place Rights Up Front fundamentally laid down in the Principles and
Purposes of the United Nations Charter and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
We believe that a United Nations peacekeeping operation will be
needed in the Central African Republic. However, the transfer of
MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation would require
some lead time for necessary preparations. We therefore urge the
international community to now support MISCA in as comprehensive
and predictable manner as possible, but to also begin considering
the option of a United Nations peacekeeping operation.
The people of the Central African Republic have hardly ever had the
opportunity to fully experience peace and security. They need our
help. Some call this a forgotten crisis. The world is haunted by
the horrors of crises spiralling into atrocities. We have watched
from a distance.
The United Nations, the African Union, ECCAS and the Central
African Republic authorities all recognize the urgency to stop this
crisis from escalating beyond control.
It is now for the Council to decide how it can best contribute to
Central African Republic: Calls Mount for UN Force in Central
by Samuel Oakford, 26 November 2013
Inter Press Service http://allafrica.com/stories/201311260206.html
United Nations — France has said it will circulate a Security
Council draft resolution Monday night that would create a U.N.
peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, as violence in
its former colony threatens to morph into an ethnic conflict.
Earlier in the day, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who
last week said conditions in the country "verged on genocide,"
announced France would triple its troop presence there to 1200,
bolstering 2,500 regional African troops who have been largely
helpless to stem increasingly anarchic conditions.
"There are no more state security services in Bangui or the rest of
the country," said Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project
director at the International Crisis Group. People are left to
themselves - only Churches can offer anything."
Since fighting began nearly two years ago, 400,000 people have been
In March, Seleka, a loose-knit coalition of rebel groups from the
country's Muslim north, captured the capital, Bangui, and forced
the president, François Bozizé, who rebels accused of failing to
abide by previous peace agreements, to flee the country.
The rebel's leader Michel Djotodia was appointed interim president,
becoming the first Muslim to hold the office.
But Djotodia's announcement in September that Seleka would be
disbanded set off prolonged bouts of looting and violence committed
by disgruntled rebels.
Amnesty International reports that since Bozizé's overthrow, the
number of militants identifying as Seleka has actually increased
from 5,000 to 20,000.
And Human Rights Watch Monday accused a Seleka commander of
explicitly killing civilians in a Nov. 10 attack in Camp Bangui.
"Attacks like these on populated areas are causing massive
devastation and fear among the population of the Central African
Republic," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights
Last week, the United States pledged 40 million dollars to prop up
the regional force that has been holed up in Bangui for months.
Though the International Support Mission to the Central African
Republic (MISCA) has plans to increase its numbers from 2,500 to
3,600, leaders in the region are convinced little can be done
without the authorisation of a U.N. peacekeeping operation.
Recent reports of attacks on mosques and churches are stirring
echoes of times when the U.N. has been slow to prevent genocide.
Following an internal report highlighting the U.N.'s inaction
during the final months of civil war in Sri Lanka, the U.N.'s
response in the Central African Republic will be seen as a test of
promises to act earlier and more decisively to prevent genocide.
Muslims, who dominate Seleka, make up only 15 percent of the
Central African Republic.
The conflict comes after "years of marginalisation and
discrimination of Muslims in the northwest" of the country, said
U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson.
Reports claim that elements of Seleka speak neither Songo nor
French, indicating they may have come from neighbouring countries
such as Sudan or Chad.
In many parts of the country, members of the Christian majority
have responded to the violence by creating their own militias,
known as "anti-balaka", or anti-machetes.
"There were several clashes between Seleka and the population this
week," Vircoulon told IPS. "The African peacekeepers retreated,
they cannot prevent them."
Though the country has a long history of coups and rebellions,
religion has not reared its head to such a degree - as it has in
the rest of the Sahel - until now.
"This did not start as a religious conflict," said Phillip
Bolopion, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch. "Neither
party had a religious agenda."
As fighting picks up, younger and younger Central Africans are
being pulled into the ranks on both sides. UNICEF estimates there
are currently 6,000 child soldiers fighting in the country.
Speaking to the Security Council, Eliasson called the suffering
"beyond imaginable" and said the U.N. had to act in order to
But very little information makes its way out of the country, where
NGOs are thin on the ground.
Thousands of refugees have fled from major cities into the bush
where they are susceptible to malaria and are dying from treatable
Until semblance of order is restored, those who have fled are
expected to die in increasing numbers.
"Part of the problem is we don't know anything," Bolopion told IPS.
Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he supported a U.N.
peacekeeping force of 6,000 troops. But French representative
Gérard Araud told reporters the secretary-general's office would
require up to three months to compile a plan of action, pushing
That timeframe leaves many wondering what role France will play in
the interim, less than a year after it launched a military
operation in Mali to dislodge extremists who had created a de-facto
state in the north of the country.
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