The Central African Republic has in the past faced some very serious situations. But the CAR has never faced such a tragic situation. All those involved on the ground say so. Today, an entire population is at risk. Today, an entire population is afraid and is subject to grave and systematic human rights violations: widespread abuse, villages burned, assassinations, rape, forced marriages, with, in addition, an increasingly sectarian and religious dimension. The heads of state in the region are worried about it and are saying so. The fate of women in the CAR, as in the Kivus (in the DRC) and Darfur, is tragic. We have no right to ignore the CAR. We must respond, as we responded together when basic rights were violated in northern Mali, with the outcome you’re familiar with. We have the ability to make the difference in the CAR. The time has come to act.
The situation in the CAR also threatens regional peace and security. As a grey area, a stateless area, an area without a backbone, the CAR already attracts all kinds of dangerous groups: the LRA that has arrived from Uganda, the Janjaweed from Darfur, perhaps already groups from the Mali/Sahel region, via southern Libya and Darfur, and perhaps already Boko Haram, which is growing in Nigeria, in very close proximity. The CAR is undoubtedly one of the weakest links in a line that starts in Nouakchott and ends in Mogadishu. The implosion of the CAR, the Somalization of the CAR cannot fail to have an impact on two of the most fragile regions of the continent, the Great Lakes region and the two Sudans.
So we must take action together. We can take action together. The international community must mobilize its efforts.
We must first of all take action to establish security in the country. It is with this in mind that France welcomes the resolute action of the CAR’s neighbours, the member countries of ECCAS, which have very quickly recognized the seriousness of the situation. France also commends the African Union, which has taken up the matter, and which, in collaboration with ECCAS, has decided to move forward by deploying the International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (AFISM-CAR). 1,400 men have already been deployed on the ground, where they are starting to make a difference, notably in Bangui. Additional reinforcements are needed in order to reach the target of 3,500 soldiers, which would enable AFISM-CAR to leave Bangui, in order to establish security within the country, which has been abandoned to looters and killers.
In order to fulfill its mission, this force must have the international community’s support: political, logistical and financial support. France, as you know, is present on the ground, with 450 troops, tasked yesterday with supporting the African force, MICOPAX, and today, at the request of the African Union Peace and Security Council, with supporting AFISM-CAR. But that’s not enough.
We have to go further, and find, notably in Brussels, the resources to finance AFISM-CAR, as the EU has done and will continue to do in support of another African Union operation, AMISOM, in Somalia. The UN Security Council, which has already taken up the matter, will also have to decide on how the UN can lend support to AFISM-CAR. France would like to move forward as swiftly as possible. The situation on the ground demands this.
We must also take action to ensure concrete progress is made at political level, in accordance with the Libreville Agreement, the N’Djamena Declaration and the Brazzaville Appeal, achieved thanks to the efforts of ECCAS, whose mediator I salute, and of the African Union. The process must lead to the holding of free, fair and transparent elections. This, Prime Minister – I address you directly – is
Lastly, we must take action on humanitarian issues, in order to help a population that is lacking everything, that is living in fear and utter destitution. In this respect I want to thank both the United Nations and the EU for their very strong mobilization. (…) France will provide €10 million3 for humanitarian projects that will have a direct impact on the people. I hope that many partners will mobilize their efforts in order to respond to the urgent needs of the population.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last year, during the United Nations General Assembly, France took the initiative of organizing a meeting devoted to Mali. A year later, Mali, which has just elected its President, is on the road back to normality.
I hope this meeting today is also effective and useful, so that when we meet again in New York next year the CAR will have got back onto the path of peace and security.
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