French Military to Take Action in the Central African Republic

Armed units are operating in the Central African Republic, and much of the country has descended into chaos. Photo: hdptcar for Wikimedia Commons.

Armed units are operating in the Central African Republic, and much of the country has descended into chaos. Photo: hdptcar for Wikimedia Commons.

The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Thursday, authorizing France to take action in the Central African Republic (Centrafrique), a former French colony. The peacekeeping operation is only the organization’s 16 since its creation in 1945.

Following the ousting of President Bozizé in March of this year, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis involving 4.6 million people has developed, and the situation is evolving toward total chaos. At least 1.3 million people require food aid according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 10 percent of the population or 400,000 people have been displaced, and 68,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

The resolution is the fruit of France’s repeated attempts over the past six months to mobilize its Security Council partners. Numbered 2127 and placed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, it authorizes a resort to force by the international community. It mandates international support to the Republic under the “Mission international de soutien à la Centrafrique,” a peacekeeping mandate known as MISCA, for a period of 12 months, with a revision in six months.

The text authorizes French forces in the Centrafrique to “take all measures necessary to support the MISCA in the accomplishment of its mandate” within the limits of their capacities and deployment zones for a temporary period, according to Le Monde.

Under the resolution, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, is required to present in three months time his recommendations on the eventual transformation of the MISCA to an official UN peacekeeping mission.

The 18-page document also outlines the necessity of an arms embargo in addition to sanctions targeting those responsible for the violent abuse. The conditions were amended multiple times at the request of the United States. A major actor in the United Nations, the country refused all costly engagements, including the deployment of between 6000 and 9000 Blue Berets, or UN peacekeeping forces.

Finally, the UN resolution foresees the creation of an investigatory committee on humanitarian rights as well as a fiduciary account to finance the activities of the MISCA. Currently, the financing of the enormous peacekeeping task comes from voluntary contributions, with the European Union providing at least 50 million euros of support.

According to the resolution, MISCA forces should currently number 3600; however, by the end of the week only 2500 – coming from Chad, Gabon, or Cameroon – were able to assemble. The recently passed UN resolution will eventually bring this number to 6000, and the French contingent, currently at 650 men, will double over the next couple of days and eventually reach 1600.

While the 15 members of the Security Council voted unanimously for action, deadly violence broke out in the capital of Bangui, where 250 French troops were already stationed at the airport. At least 130 people were massacred Thursday, and by Friday the death toll had reached 280.

The French Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced Friday morning that the operation in the Centrafrique had begun with a relatively calm night of patrolling the capital city of Bangui.

According to journalist Nicolas Bertrand from France 2, ex-rebels of the Séléka tried on Thursday to penetrate the airport, guarded by French troops – who successfully destroyed the truck and killed the vehicle’s occupants. Colonel Gilles Jarron confirmed the details of the attack, adding, “We will retaliate each time they open fire on French ranks.”

Diplomats are already considering the mission to be impossible, for many reasons. Weakness in the number of forces, lack of equipment and financing, and the restriction of the civilian component from the mission may the success of the peacekeeping operation.

 

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  1. […] The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing France to take action in the Central African Republic (Centrafrique), a former French colony. The peacekeeping operation is only the organization’s 16th since its creation in 1945. Following the ousting of President Bozizé in March of this year, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis involving 4.6 million people has developed, and the situation is evolving toward total chaos. At least 1.3 million people require food aid according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 10 percent of the population, or 400,000 people, have been displaced, and 68,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries. Read more about the French military operation in RCA. […]

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