I thank Mr. Abou Moussa, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, for his briefing on the situation in Central African Republic, the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), and the efforts to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The many political and security challenges in Central Africa require additional cooperation from all national, regional, subregional and United Nations stakeholders. In that regard, we welcome the connections made between UNOCA and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.
In addition to the workshops and conferences that are organized on a regular basis at the initiative of UNOCA, it is crucial for the Office, as a matter of priority, to concentrate its activities on prevention and support for efforts to resolve the conflicts within the subregion. The crisis in the Central African Republic, the crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the fight against the LRA are matters for follow-up by subregional organizations, the African Union and the relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and offices. In that context, UNOCA’s know-how should be drawn upon to directly support those efforts.
The situation in Bangui and throughout the Central African Republic following the takeover by Séléka continues to be most worrisome. In spite of announced measures to enforce the cantonment of Séléka troops, public order remains tenuous. Human rights violations and looting continue. Civilians are the primary targets of the violence, which further complicates the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Stabilizing the security situation must therefore be the priority. We welcome the ECCAS decision to strengthen the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX). Cooperation between the ECCAS, the African Union and the United Nations must continue to assess how the United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, could support the strengthening of MICOPAX, which is necessary to ensure the re-establishment of order and protect the people in the Central African Republic.
The crisis in the Central African Republic is taking on an ever-broader regional dimension. Humanitarian needs are growing every day. At the moment, there are approximately 206,000 displaced persons and 50,000 refugees, primarily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo. One million three-hundred thousand people are in a situation of food insecurity. Against that backdrop, the international humanitarian response remains, for the time being, much too weak. The urgent appeal launched by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has only been covered up to 27 per cent of the total requested.
On the political front, the efforts of ECCAS and the N’Djamena summits of 3 and 18 April allowed for the development of a transition framework with a view to the holding of elections in 18 months. The contact group meeting in Brazzaville on 3 May confirmed that positive momentum and encouraged the partners of the Central African Republic to support the transition. With the support of the international community, the Prime Minister and the transitional authorities must together make every effort to ensure that the agreed objectives are met, especially that of strengthening the representative character of the transitional authorities.
While the efforts to stabilize the Central African Republic continue, the fight against the threat posed by the LRA must also continue tirelessly. The rebels led by Joseph Kony, who is himself sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC), continue their atrocities, primarily in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also in the Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. Over 25 years, the group has killed more than 100,000 people in Central Africa. And it has kidnapped or forcibly recruited between 60,000 and 100,000 children and displaced 2.5 million people.
We welcome the concrete progress made by the African Union to strengthen the tools for fighting the LRA. The African Union Regional Task Force against the Lord’s Resistance Army now comprises 3,500 troops. Its concept of operations and rules of engagement have been finalized. We encourage close cooperation between the Regional Task Force and the United Nations peacekeeping operations on the ground to achieve the disarmament and demobilization of the LRA rebels, the arrest and transfer to the ICC of its leaders, and better protection of civilian populations.
In terms of the role of the United Nations, UNOCA has developed an implementation plan for the United Nations regional strategy to address the threat and impact of the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (S/2013/240, annex). Presented last April, that plan details the funding needed for projects to combat the LRA conducted by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. The plan will allow for a better structuring of international efforts. However, it must be further developed and updated to ensure the effectiveness of the efforts undertaken.
Moreover, peacekeeping operations involved in the fight against the LRA, such as the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have their own monitoring and coordination mechanisms regarding attacks and locations of members of the LRA. They must actively employ those tools to encourage fighters to defect and to welcome deserters, especially children.
I would like to conclude by addressing a worrisome trend that the Special Representative of the Secretary- General also touched upon, that is, the growing scope of poaching in Central Africa to fund criminal activities, including terrorism. This phenomenon, which threatens both the security of the region and endangered species, is now well established. In that regard, cooperation between States in the region, ECCAS, the African Union and United Nations must be stepped up.
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