Central African Republic
Q. – For the Central African Republic, where the situation is quite alarming, Mr Ban Ki-moon has asked – particularly France – for additional troops. Several NGOs have become alarmed at the mass exodus of Muslims and at massacres involving children. There was a Select Defence Council meeting this morning, and Mr Déby is in Paris. Are any new things under way concerning the Central African Republic?
THE MINISTER – The situation in the Central African Republic is indeed worrying. The Defence Minister has been there and to other, neighbouring countries. I was also able to meet the President, Ms Samba-Panza, who is a remarkable woman. A number of changes have occurred in recent days. The United Nations Secretary-General made an appeal to us. A Select Defence Council meeting was also held this morning. It enabled us to set out France’s position on these events.
The French President took a number of decisions.
Q. – In relation to the CAR, according to Amnesty International and also the UN envoy the French and African forces on the ground are insufficient. Are we now waiting for the European forces to provide reinforcements, or are we hoping to improve the situation?
THE MINISTER – France was the first, a few months ago now, to draw the international community’s attention to the situation in the Central African Republic. We asked the United Nations to take the necessary decisions for there to be an intervention there. The day after that authorization was given, France intervened alongside the African forces of MISCA [AFISM-CAR]. Everyone recognizes that if France hadn’t intervened, a real, large-scale massacre would have been committed.
Even the UN talked about a pre-genocide situation. Everyone pays tribute to the work done by the Africans and by France in intervening.
The situation is very difficult at humanitarian level, and the democratic transition will also have to be prepared. We’ve had conversations in recent days with the UN Secretary-General. He expressed the wish for additional efforts to be made. So Europe decided to intervene. A force generation effort is currently under way, which requires each country to assess how many troops or what support it can provide. A few countries have already announced contributions. For example, our Polish friends have announced they’ll send 150 troops. We’re talking, ultimately, of a contribution of several hundred troops. Other contributions of a logistical and material nature will have to be made.
Regarding MISCA, the number of African troops is already very high (nearly 6,000), but they have transport difficulties. Additional efforts can be made. We also have problems to resolve. For example, wages aren’t being paid, and the neighbouring countries have made a number of commitments. The IMF and World Bank can also intervene. There’s also the strengthening of BINUCA, the United Nations [Integrated Peacebuilding] Office [in the Central African Republic], which deals with all these problems and must step up its presence very quickly. Sanctions must also be imposed, and this requires the UN’s intervention.
The French President spoke to Mr Ban Ki-moon yesterday. The Select Defence Council meeting held this morning recalled France’s position and what’s necessary in order for the situation to improve as a matter of great urgency. (…)./.