CAR, 16 July 2014 – The insecurity in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains a great concern, the top United Nations peacekeeping official said today, highlighting the need for airlift capacity and other logistical assistance to increase the number of UN ‘blue helmets’ in the country.
Speaking to journalists after a closed-door session of the Security Council, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, said that the work is going on “very, very actively.”
“We are working despite all the logistical challenges towards deploying additional troops,” said Mr. Ladsous, who recently returned from the country. “The problem is that it is a landlocked country. The roads are very, very limited. So it’s not easy.”
The 15-member Council unanimously authorized, in April, the creation of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) which is expected to be on the ground by September. The new UN Mission is to take over the responsibilities of the African-led International Support Mission, known as MISCA, and will initially comprise up to 10,000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1,800 police personnel.
The UN is currently “re-hatting” some of the MISCA forces to join the MINUSCA troops, and generating additional forces, Mr. Ladsous said, adding that the process “will not happen overnight.”
Also today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially appointed his acting Special Representative and head of MINUSCA to that post. Prior to this position, Babacar Gaye, of Senegal, headed the UN peacebuilding office in the country, known by its acronym BINUCA.
Central African Republic has been embroiled in fighting currently fuelled by inter-communal retaliatory attacks between anti-balaka and Séléka rebels, after the latter were ousted from power in January 2014. An estimated 2.2 million people are in need of humanitarian aid as a result.
In late May, the Security Council strongly condemned the latest wave of violence in the country. It stressed that the CAR Transitional Authorities have the primary responsibility to protect civilians, and to encourage them to take the necessary measures to prevent further violence in the capital, Bangui, and throughout the country.
“The situation remains of great concern from a security angle,” Mr. Ladsous said. “Things are probably not as bad now in Bangui as they were. And I think that is in part thanks to MISCA and also to the European force that has now deployed. But in the provinces, as witnessed in incidents in the past couple of weeks, issues are far from settled.”
Mr. Ladsous, who earlier this month participated in a meeting of the International Contact Group on the CAR, said there was a strong push for a peace forum to be held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, starting on 21 July, to find a political solution to the violence.
“The hope is that it can be decided that hostilities cease, and that weapons are laid down, and that will pave the way to stage a process of talks on national reconciliation that could take place probably in CAR itself,” Mr. Ladsous said. “But there was a very strong commitment of participants of the international community to make it happen, and a very strong, very unanimous signal.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon latest report on the situation in CAR is expected to be out in early August.