Central African Republic: UN Force Delayed

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Central African Republic: UN Force Delayed

AfricaFocus Bulletin
March 13, 2014 (140313)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

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 http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/central-african-republic/

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on the Central African Republic, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/car.php

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and security issues, visit http://www.africafocus.org/peaceexp.php

++++++++++++++++++++++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 continent.

"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 of anonymity.

But there is hope that this time Ban will not wilt in the face of pressure.

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 watch."

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 villages.

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 the road.

At the time, logistical concerns were also raised: where would an already overextended Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) raise troops?

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 success alone.

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 of Bangui.

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 militias.

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 mission now.

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 policy.

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 20, 2014


The Secretary-General:

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 “collateral damage” 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 burden.

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 possible.

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 bridging period.

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 country.

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 SÃf©lÃf©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 initiatives.

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 military equipment.

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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