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Central African Republic: UN Force Delayed
March 13, 2014 (140313)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
The situation in the Central African Republic is "extremely grave,"
according to Valerie Amos, the top UN humanitarian relief official.
Last month the UN Secretary General called for a full
peacekeeping force to be mobilized, as well as immediate additional
support for overstretched African and French troops trying to
protect civilians. A favorable UN Security Council vote is expected
later this month, but the force is not expected to be available
until September. And, as of this month, only 20% of the $547
million in humanitarian assistance needed for 2014 had been raised.
In large part, the reasons for delay come from structural problems
impeding rapid international response to crises, even when the
needs are undeniable and urgent. The need for such a force has been
clear since the latest crisis momentarily caught the world's
attention in November (see http://africafocus.org/docs13/car1311.php). But the fact that UN
peacekeeping budgets are stretched and that each new action
requires new agreement from funders has ensured that the "urgent"
responses have been too little and too late.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains an article from Inter Press
Service analyzing the debate about UN involvement in peacekeeping
in the Central African Republic, and excerpts from the UN
Secretary-General's new report and the Security Council debate on
the issue on February 20.
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin, sent out by email today and available
on the web at http://www.africafocus.org/docs14/mil1403.php,
contains excerpts from documents and links related to the U.S.
military posture in Africa.
For an additional UN News article on the "extremely grave"
situation, see this March 7 report from Valerie Amos, the top UN
relief official: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47302
For additional background on the United Nations Security Council
and the Central African Republic, visit
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on the Central African Republic,
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and security issues,
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
"Central African Republic: Political Wrangling Stymies CAR
Peacekeeping Force" by Samuel Oakford, 3 March 2014
Inter Press Service
United Nations — Budget constraints in Washington and obstinacy at
the highest levels of the African Union (AU) have combined to
dangerously delay a possible U.N. peacekeeping mission in the
Central African Republic (CAR), according to sources close to
negotiations currently underway in New York.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was set to deliver his report on
CAR to the Security Council this past Friday.
But the document, believed to contain a damning portrayal of ethnic
cleansing and atrocities as well as a recommendation for an
official mission, was held up at the last moment and delayed to
this week, raising fears that its language could be toned down to
accommodate the reservations of the U.S., AU and others.
Whatever the immediate outcome, the struggle illustrates an
evolving and at times tense relationship between the Security
Council, a more assertive AU and the U.N. over interventions on the
"The reality is that a U.N. mission is absolutely essential to
stabilising CAR, and the secretary-general's reporting is spot-on
as to the desperate situation on the ground," said a high-ranking
human rights officer in Bangui who spoke with IPS on the condition
But there is hope that this time Ban will not wilt in the face of
In December, with violence ratcheting up, the Security Council,
after initially considering a French proposal for a full mission,
chose instead to mandate and enlarge the existing AU mission in the
country - thereafter called MISCA - and authorise the deployment of
French "Sangari" troops, currently numbering 2,000.
The move saved hundreds of millions of dollars in the short term,
but has proved a stop-gap measure.
Underpinning the tension between the AU and the U.N. is a push by
the Africans and international partners to encouraged "African
solutions to African Problems," in this case, letting MISCA handle
its mandate without calling in the U.N.
"We agree with the principle of African solutions to African
problems, but it should not come at the expense of African lives,"
said Philippe Bolopion, U.N. director of Human Rights Watch.
CAR "is not the time or the place for the AU to make a point,"
Bolopion told IPS. "It's pretty clear that the AU-French
combination on the ground is not enough to protect civilians. A
huge chunk of the Muslim population has had to flee under their
In April, 700 EU troops are set to spell French troops stationed
the Bangui airport, allowing the Sangaris to travel out into more
rural areas where the peacekeeping presence is thin and small bands
of lightly armed Christian anti-balaka militias can wipe out entire
In an interview with African Arguments, Amnesty International's
senior investigator Donatella Rovera said neither the French nor AU
forces, by now numbering 6,000, have been effective.
"The military efforts belonged to the AU and French and they have
had huge coordination problems," said Rovera. "They weren't present
where things were happening, when they could have made a
difference, when they could have stopped some of the massacres.
They did not seem to be very willing to confront the new actor."
The small U.N. political mission already in place, BINUCA, is
grossly underfunded and ineffective at fulfilling its basic
mandate. At the time of the December vote, observers expressed
concern to IPS that without a bona fide, well-funded intervention,
though violence might be temporarily snuffed out, the inequities
and development shortfalls that led to the crisis would kicked down
At the time, logistical concerns were also raised: where would an
already overextended Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
Money was an issue as well: in the U.S., which funds over onequarter
of peacekeeping operations, Congress would soon set a 2014
budget that left a 12-percent funding gap in their dues and
allocates exactly zero to a recently announced mission in Mali. How
could they afford another venture in CAR?
Yet later that month, the Security Council saw fit to increase the
number of peacekeepers in an already in-place mission in South
Sudan. Many wondered if CAR was being shortchanged.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, who has publicly
pleaded the case of CAR before the Council, was put in an awkward
position by budget considerations. In a workaround, the U.S.
provided 100 million dollars of direct assistance to a trust fund
set up for MISCA, thereby making themselves investors in their
But MISCA is in many ways a poster child for AU stubbornness.
"It is important to remember that the MISCA mission has been around
in various forms since 1996, so this is a country where many of the
officers have been posted often. Many even learned [the local
language] Sango," said the human rights official in Bangui.
"The AU itself is very much opposed to a U.N. mission because they
want to claim success in CAR and want to keep the MISCA mission,
which suits the U.S. as well," said the official. "The AU has long
misrepresented the reality on the ground."
In December, the AU's envoy to the U.N., SmaÃ&hibar;l Chergui, brushed
aside accusations that Chadian MISCA troops had repeatedly attacked
civilians in CAR. But last week, Chadian troops were again charged
by locals with killing three civilians in a Christian neighborhood
At a Jan. 14 meeting of the AU's Defence Committee, Chergui told
gathered ministers in Addis Ababa "we are hopeful that we will soon
significantly improve the security situation and prove the prophets
of doom wrong."
Yet in February, the U.N.'s refugee agency and the human rights
group Amnesty International identified rampant ethnic cleansing
against the country's Muslim minority.
After an initial bout of violence committed by predominantly Muslim
Seleka rebels left a thousand dead in December, the French Sangaris
set about disarming and arrested the group, who had held power in
Bangui since taking the city in March.
At the time, observers, including U.N. human rights chief Navi
Pillay, expressed concern over the potential for revenge killings
against Muslims in areas vacated by the Seleka. Those fears proved
disastrously correct and peacekeepers proved no match for
containing disparate but potent attacks by Christian anti-balaka
In Bangui, where upwards of 150,000 Muslims lived prior to the
conflict, by some accounts fewer than 10,000 remain. Palm fronds
hanging outside houses in formerly diverse neighbourhoods indicate
where Christian families have seized a home deserted by their
former neighbours, either murdered or attempted to flee, likely to
Cameroon or Chad.
At least 100,000 Muslims have left the country entirely and
countless displaced persons have fled to the bush.
In December, members of the Security Council explained their
piecemeal solution to the violence in CAR by pointing to the sixmonth
time frame for implementing a full U.N. mission. But three
months later the same reasons are given for dampening hopes of a
Though the French have publicly spoken in favour of an official
mission, they remain in delicate negotiations with regional powerbroker
Chad over existing missions in Mali and their basing rights
in the country.
And they, like the AU, have reason to want the current mission to
be seen as a success. President Francoise Hollande, who visited
Bangui Friday, wants to impress a sceptical populace after he made
interventions in former colonies a cornerstone of his foreign
Earlier this month, out of sight of peacekeepers, 70 Muslims were
killed over the course of two days in the southwest town of Guen,
made to lie down on the ground then shot one by one.
UN Security Council meeting on Central African Republic February
The crisis that continues to unfold in the Central African Republic
poses a test for the entire international community. The situation
in the country has been on the agenda of the Security Council for
many years now, but today's emergency is of another, more
disturbing, magnitude. It is a calamity with a strong claim on the
conscience of humankind. Over the past year we have seen, in quick
succession, the violent overthrow of the Government, the collapse
of State institutions and a descent into lawlessness and sectarian
brutality. Over 2.5 million people — more than half the population
— need immediate humanitarian assistance.
The new acting Head of State, Ms. Catherine Samba-Panza, is
committed to building State authority, and I commend her valiant
efforts. But with no budget, hardly any resources and faced with
the country's pervasive poverty, her abilities are sharply
constrained. The path towards the restoration of State authority
will be a long one.
Innocent civilians are being killed in large numbers. Those victims
are not so-called âcollateral damageâ from fighting between rebel
groups. They are being killed purposefully, targeted for their
religious beliefs and for their community affiliation — for who
they are. Muslims in particular are being targeted, but the exS
éléka continue to attack Christians as well.
Almost 1 million people have been displaced, with many homes burned
to the ground with the purpose of preventing their return. Whole
populations are being moved. A creeping de facto partition of the
country is setting in, with Muslims in one part and Christians in
the other. That separation is sowing the seeds of conf lict and
instability for years, maybe generations, to come.
The African Union and France have deployed troops to the Central
African Republic to help stem the violence. We owe those leaders
and soldiers our gratitude for saving so many lives and providing
protection where they can. We owe the African-led International
Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) and
Operation Sangaris our solidarity and assistance.
However, given the scale and geographic breadth of the violence,
the security requirements far exceed the capabilities of the number
of international troops now deployed. In places where there are no
international forces, the choice for far too many civilians is to f
lee or be killed.
The human family must not shy away from what is happening today in
the Central African Republic, or from our responsibilities — both
the Council's and mine — under the Charter of the United Nations.
Events in the Central African Republic have implications across the
region and summon us to defend universal values. This complex
security, humanitarian, human rights and political crisis demands a
comprehensive and integrated response.
The United Nations is working with the African Union, the Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the European Union and
the World Bank to address the country's diverse challenges. But
those efforts will prove fruitless unless we do more to end the
atrocity crimes, the destruction of communities and the mass
displacement of populations.
The Security Council has asked for my recommendations for a future
United Nations peacekeeping operation. I will soon report to the
Council on the outlines of a mission with a robust mandate to
protect civilians and promote stability. But the deployment of a
peacekeeping operation, if authorized, will take months; the people
of the Central African Republic do not have months to wait. The
international community must act decisively now to prevent any
further worsening of the situation and to respond to the dire needs
of the country's people. In that spirit, today I propose a sixpoint
initiative to address the greatest risks being faced by the
people of the Central African Republic.
First, and most important, I call for the rapid reinforcement of
the African Union and French troops now on the ground, with
additional deployments of at least 3,000 more troops and police.
That new personnel, including formed police units, should deploy as
soon as possible, in the coming days and weeks, and have the
necessary mobility, including air mobility, to be able to operate
wherever required. AU Commission President Zuma has informed me
that she will propose an expansion of MISCA to the AU Peace and
Security Council. I welcome her initiative and urge members of the
Peace and Security Council to endorse it. President Hollande of
France has announced that Operation Sangaris will be reinforced by
some 25 per cent, to a total of 2,000. In addition, the European
Union is poised to increase its planned deployment from 500 to
1,000, with an initial operating capacity on the ground in early
March. I am grateful for those commitments. But more are needed,
quickly, and the broader international community must share the
Secondly, I propose that all international forces in the Central
African Republic be brought under a coordinated command and that
the mission of those forces be focused on the most urgent
priorities, that is, containing the violence, protecting civilians,
preventing further displacements, creating a secure environment for
the delivery of humanitarian assistance and laying the groundwork
for the handover to a United Nations peacekeeping force as soon as
Thirdly, I propose that the African troops that join that force be
provided with logistic and financial support, including rations,
water and fuel and reimbursement for their major non-lethal
military equipment. The estimated cost of that package, consisting
of the bare essentials, would be $38 million for a six-month
Fourthly, I call for rapid, tangible support to the Government of
the Central African Republic to help it establish a minimum
capacity to function. That support should include the financial
assistance necessary to get police back on the streets, judges back
in the courtrooms and prison guards back on the job. I am pleased
to announce that today Denmark confirmed a contribution of $2
million to that initiative. I intend to see those resources put to
use quickly. Norway has also confirmed today that it will make a
donation to the effort.
Fifthly, I call for the acceleration of a political and
reconciliation process to prevent a further fraying of the communal
bonds and to lay the groundwork for an end to the conflict.
Community and religious leaders will have an especially important
role to play in promoting tolerance, peaceful coexistence and nonviolence.
A political process will also require the dynamic
engagement of ECCAS, the AU and the international community. I
would like to pay particular tribute to the tireless efforts of the
ECCAS Chief Mediator, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the
Republic of the Congo.
The United Nations is reinforcing the United Nations Integrated
Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic's analytical
and operational capabilities so that we can help the national
authorities to put the transition back on track, expand State
authority and establish credible institutions throughout the
Accountability and justice measures must be key elements of any
peace and reconciliation process. More immediately, such measures
will contribute to the prevention of ongoing human rights
violations. I am pleased to announce that the Chairperson of the
commission of inquiry mandated by the Security Council, along with
an advance team, will arrive in the Central African Republic to
take up their important work.
Sixthly and finally, I appeal for urgent funding for humanitarian
aid, which is currently insufficient to address the crisis. Only 15
per cent of the resources needed for this year have been received,
despite generous pledges made at last month's funding conference in
Brussels. My Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Valerie Amos, is in
the Central African Republic. She has expressed shock at what she
saw in Bossangoa today, and noted that tensions between communities
are high and that people fear for their lives. She stressed the
need for more troops on the ground to provide security and
protection across the country.
Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic
March 3, 2014
[Excerpts: for full report see http://tinyurl.com/k25u3xw]
95. I am deeply concerned about the dramatic deterioration of the
situation in the Central African Republic. The staggering level of
violence and massive displacement are changing the country's
demography, with potentially long-term consequences. The attacks by
antibalaka militias in December in Bangui against ex-Seleka
elements reversed the conflict dynamic and sparked a vicious cycle
of reprisals among civilians and clashes between armed militias
that deeply affected civilians across the country. International
efforts, in particular the swift deployment of MISCA and the French
Sangaris forces, were critical to saving the lives of civilians in
the locations where they were deployed across the country. I
commend the African Union and the French forces for their quick
deployment. I pay tribute to their dedication and courage to
implement their mandates in difficult circumstances and extend my
sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives in the
service of peace. I welcome the decision to increase the
international forces, including through the temporary deployment of
a European Union Force. I urge European and other leaders to commit
additional troops and police during this critical interim phase.
96. I am encouraged by the swift formation of the Transitional
Government under the leadership of the new Head of State of the
Transition, Catherine Samba-Panza, and her expressed willingness to
tackle the multiple and daunting challenges ahead. However, the
Transitional Government will need the sustained engagement of its
neighbours, the region and the broader international community to
steer the country out of the current crisis. The United Nations and
the international community at large stand ready to support the
Central African Republic. However it is first and foremost the
responsibility of Central Africans themselves to find a solution to
end the suffering inflicted on their country. I therefore call on
all Central African stakeholders to seize the opportunity of this
transition period to address the immediate challenges facing the
country, cease the violence and restore the country's tradition of
peaceful coexistence, while laying the groundwork for sustainable
peace and stability. I encourage them to cooperate fully with MISCA
and other international forces, as well as with my Special
Representative on the ground and the proposed United Nations
peacekeeping mission, once it deploys
97. Despite the presence of international forces, violence and
wide-spread human rights violations have continued across the
country. It is clear that we, as the international community, have
not yet done enough to help the people of the Central African
Republic confront this crisis, which began long before the SÃfÂ©lÃfÂ©ka
rebellion seized power on 24 March 2013. The time to act is now.
This is why I have presented the Security Council with a sixpoint
initiative proposing immediate measures to stop the violence and
killings, protect civilians, prevent the de facto partition of the
country, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and
provide the Transitional Government with urgently needed support. I
once again urge the Council to support these proposals, as a vital
bridging measure, pending the eventual deployment of a United
Nations peacekeeping operation.
98. The challenges in the Central African Republic are immense and
multi-faceted. The response to the crisis must be comprehensive,
multidimensional and sustained in order to help stabilize the
country, restore law and order and rebuild state institutions that
can secure the country and protect its people. This is not the
first time that the United Nations will have deployed peacekeepers
in the Central African Republic. As the lessons learned from the
past clearly demonstrate, in order to have a lasting impact on the
ground, the United Nations must be given a strong role. This
includes supporting the reforms needed to address the root causes
of the crisis and helping to rebuild the State and its institutions
so that the Central African Republic can finally break free from
the recurring cycle of political instability, violence and poverty.
The United Nations mission foresees strong and close cooperation
with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other
financial institutions in rebuilding the Central African State.
99. The peacekeeping mission, whose main goals and tasks are
outlined in the present report, would be tailored to the
circumstances on the ground. Its military footprint would decrease,
as soon as the situation permits, while its police component would
gradually increase. Its civilian staffing would also be flexibly
managed based on priority tasks, which would also evolve in
response to the situation on the ground.
100. Yet we must recognise that there will be no quick fix in the
Central African Republic. Responding to the crisis will require
time and resources. The scale of the needs in the Central African
Republic is daunting. Progress in any one area will not be
sustainable without significant and simultaneous engagement in
others. Further postponement of a sustainable multidimensional
response may well carry greater human and financial costs.. The
potential division of the country along sectarian lines and the
creation of a fertile breeding ground for extremist groups are real
risks, with potentially far reaching implications for the stability
of the region and beyond.
101. There will be no solution to the crisis in the Central African
Republic without the continued active engagement of its neighbours
and the region. I call on them and the wider international
community to increase their efforts in support of the Central
African Republic taking into account their respective comparative
advantages and while seeking to leverage partnerships and regional
102. A strong MISCA will help address the immediate security
challenges faced by the population, and facilitate the transition
to a United Nations peacekeeping operation. However, MISCA still
lacks critical capabilities to achieve its full potential. I call
on bilateral partners and Members States to urgently provide MISCA
with rapid and generous financial and material support, including
for the payment of its personnel and for the reimbursement of major
103. I recommend that the Security Council, acting under Chapter
VII of the Charter, authorize the deployment of a multidimensional
United Nations peacekeeping operation with a mandate in line with
my recommendations in paragraphs 60 and 61 of this report and
adequate resources. The aim would be for the bulk of MISCA to
transition to a United Nations peacekeeping operation, along with
other contributors in accordance with the human rights screening
policy and capabilities, in order to reach an authorized strength
of up to 10,000 military personnel, including 240 military
observers and 200 staff officers, and up to 1,820 civilian police
officers with ten formed police units comprising 1,400 formed
police unit personnel, 400 individual police officers and 20
seconded corrections officers. These would be deployed together
with a significant civilian component and necessary support staff.
This strength would be reviewed on a regular basis, leading to
appropriate recommendations to the Council. With the establishment
of the peacekeeping operation, BINUCA would cease to exist.
104. Many of the problems facing the Central African Republic
exceed the capacities of a United Nations peacekeeping operation,
considering the complexities of the crisis, the absence of the
security apparatus and the almost non-existent capacity of the
State. Deploying a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the
Central African Republic should therefore be part of a broader,
long-term engagement of the international community. Success in
this broader effort to help the Government and people of the
Central African Republic re-build a state will depend on the
contributions and commitments of many actors, most importantly the
Central Africans themselves.
105. In addition to the Government's request for the deployment of
a peacekeeping operation, its deployment must come with a political
commitment from national stakeholders to engage in an inclusive
political process aimed at creating an environment that is
conducive to the creation of a new army, the rebuilding the police
and gendarmerie, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration,
reconciliation and the conduct of inclusive, fair and transparent
elections. This should be used as an opportunity to review the
Transitional Framework in an inclusive manner. National actors
should commit formally to a process that produces a consensual
vision of for a future republican army that is representative of
the nation's diversity. They should also consider strengthening
international mechanisms, such as the International Contact Group
and the Technical Follow-up Committee, which could be given
additional prerogatives to facilitate the transition process - with
an important role for key regional and international actors,
including the United Nations - and could function as an
international committee to accompany the Transition.
106. The international community must commit to working together
and to providing the necessary assistance to the Central African
Republic to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of our
actions, based on our respective comparative advantages. There can
be no development without peace, no peace without development and
neither without respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Adequate resources must be devoted to each of these pillars. Our
common, long-term objective must be a Central African Republic that
is secure in its borders, able to conduct its own affairs and
provide services to all Central Africans without discrimination,
and without interference from or dependence on outsiders. A country
where Muslims, Christians and all other communities can live
peacefully alongside one another, regardless of their creed or
political affiliation, and play a vibrant role in the political,
economic and social life of the country.
107. The deployment of the proposed peacekeeping operation would
need, in particular, to go hand in hand with a commitment of the
international financial institutions to support the rebuilding of
the State, which would include support to rebuilding the financial
and banking sectors, including the payment of civil servants'
salaries in the immediate term.
108. At the same time, I recommend a partnership initiative between
the Government of the Central African Republic and the
international community, including the African Union and ECCAS,
which would set out key priorities for a recovery and
accountability compact based on critical peace and State building
goals. In particular, there will be a need to strengthen public
financial management and accountability in a manner that
specifically targets revenue collection, expenditure controls,
public procurement and concession practices as part of the
rebuilding of the State, along the lines of the Governance and
Economic Management Assistance Programme (GEMAP) in Liberia.
109. Given the dire conditions and extreme vulnerability of the
population, immediate and sustained support for humanitarian
operations is equally important. Urgent measures are needed to hold
perpetrators of violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law accountable.
110. I wish to pay tribute to my Special Representative for the
Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye, and the staff of BINUCA and
the United Nations country team for their continued hard work. I am
deeply appreciative of the sacrifice that they are making for the
cause of peace in the Central African Republic. I also thank the
transitional authorities, the African Union, MISCA troopcontributing
countries, ECCAS, the European Union, donor countries
and multilateral and non-governmental organizations for their
continued efforts to address the crisis in the Central African
Republic. We must build on the sense of hope that the Central
African people are exhibiting to enhance our partnership and
redouble our efforts in support of the people and Government of the
Central African Republic.
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