20 November 2013 - Security Council - Activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa and on the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank Mr. Abou Moussa for his briefing and the Secretary-General for his report.
Many challenges undoubtedly remain in Central Africa, as mentioned by Mr. Abou Moussa, including ever-increasing acts of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which remains fragile despite the victory over the Mouvement du 23 mars. I will focus my remarks on two topics: the Central African Republic and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
With regard to the Central African Republic, I would like my statement to be heard as a warning, given the exceptional seriousness of the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic, and as an appeal. I believe that no one can underestimate the risk of the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic, which could lead to killings and violence on a massive scale if the international community does not intervene. I can only advise participants in this meeting to meet the representatives of the humanitarian agencies and entities of the Organization or of non-governmental organizations who are courageously working in the Central African Republic.
If they were to do so, they would all hear horrific reports of the situation of the population, who are terrorized and at risk from gangs of bandits — let us br frank — and, at the same time, from being immersed in interreligious violence. The Christians are afraid of the Muslims. The Muslims are afraid of the Christians. They are both made up of militia who, of course, blindly engage in violence, the primary victims of which are civilians, including women and children. We must act and respond very swiftly in order to prevent the worst, which unfortunately happened 20 years ago on that same continent.
I have said that the humanitarian situation is extremely dangerous. The entire Central African population, half of which is made up of children, is affected. More than 1 million people suffer from food insecurity and 400,000 have been displaced. There are almost daily cases of extorsion, violence and killings in a country where the State no longer exists. There is no State whatsoever. There are no longer any State authorities. There are only militia, who are making their own laws. So we must act. My statement is also an appeal to the international community.
I am well aware that the Central African Republic is a country that is not well known. We do not often think about it and is not often on the front pages. Nevertheless, today, an extremely serious tragedy is taking place there. It is not only a moral tragedy, which would be sufficient to mobilize us, but also a tragedy that may have repercussions for the stability of the entire region. We have already seen incidents reported on the border between the Central African Republic and Cameroon. So there is the risk of the Central African Republic becoming a failed State in Central Africa and a centre of instability for all States of the region.
The States of the region have responded. We must of course commend the efforts of the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union. Those States decided to deploy the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic. They therefore deserve the support of the United Nations and, of course, the bilateral support of all relevant States. At the initiative of France, the Council will have the opportunity to consider in detail the resources that could be used to support that force and to find a lasting solution to the crisis in the Central African Republic. As I have said, all those humanitarian, political and security challenges require all actors to cooperate. In that regard, UNOCA must work with regional and subregional organizations.
Having talked about the the Central African Republic and tried to convince participants and my colleagues of the seriousness of the situation there, I will now turn to the other major focus of my colleagues’ statements, that is, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Here, I can only reiterate what has already been said, namely, that I am very pleased with the recent progress in combating that armed group, whose cruelty and violence are extreme. We therefore encourage relevant States and partners to continue along that path in order to put an end to the threat.
The offensive launched by the African Union against the LRA is a reality. We have said that. The African Union’s Regional Task Force to fight the LRA has proved its effectiveness. Here, we should of course commend Uganda and other contributing regional countries for their commitment. We must now ensure that the LRA does not benefit from a security vacuum to prosper. Another issue linked to the situation in the Central African Republic is to ensure that the western part of the country does not become a safe haven for LRA terrorists.
At the same time, we must not forget the need for justice. We must bring to justice the principal Lord’s Resistance Army leaders, in particular Joseph Kony, and encourage all States concerned to increase their cooperation and collaboration with the International Criminal Court in that regard. Measures to protect civilians must of course be strengthened. That means further sharing of information and intelligence among regional United Nations operations and offices and between the Organization and the African Union regional force. Access and humanitarian assistance to those areas affected by the the Lord’s Resistance Army, which are often by defintion very isolated and remote, must also be made possible as soon as possible.
France supports all efforts through its contribution to the African Peace Facility of the European Union. With regard to the Central African Republic, members know that France is present in Bangui and will strenthen its presence in order to provide effective support to the African force. It will also support LRA-affected States bilaterally.
The LRA-affected States have a leading role to play, together with the African Union, in the fight against that group. Let us stand by their side.
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