News / Africa

Debate Continues Over UN Force for CAR

A French soldier waves through traffic as he mans a roadblock in the Miskine neighborhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 6, 2014.
A French soldier waves through traffic as he mans a roadblock in the Miskine neighborhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Jan. 6, 2014.
Anne Look
The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to discuss the situation in the Central African Republic Monday, amid mounting calls for a U.N. peacekeeping force to stop communal violence that exploded one month ago.  More than 1,000 people have died and nearly a million displaced from their homes.  French and regional troops in the CAR are not seen as impartial or entirely up to halting the clashes.

French and African Union troops intervened in the CAR after communal violence broke out in the capital Bangui on December 5, but the killing continues.  Religious and communal tensions are running high.

Some Central Africans said they want U.N. troops to intervene.

This Bangui resident, Mathieu Lamba, said "blue helmets mean protection for civilians."  He said, "judging by what has been going on in this city, I can tell you that French and the African Union troops have failed." 

He said the French troops were disarming fighters but they changed their tactics after they lost those two soldiers.  "We need U.N. troops to protect civilians and get life back to normal," said Lamba.

But others did't see what difference it would make.

Yakaka Abel, asked "Wouldn't the U.N. troops be coming to accomplish the same thing that the international troops already here are trying to do?  So shouldn't we just reevaluate and improve the strategies and techniques of these troops?"

  • French soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • A French solider with his machine gun at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers stand ready at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers atop a tank at a checkpoint, Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers checking passenger cars at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA
  • French soldiers at a checkpoint in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 22, 2013. Idriss Fall/VOA

Analysts said that U.N. force would likely be the same international troops already there and just "re-hatted" in blue, something similar to what was done in Mali last year.

That process would probably take two to three months.

French officials are pushing for a U.N. force.  France currently has 1,600 troops in the CAR but cannot sustain a long-term military engagement and wants to hand it off by the middle of this year. 

That would likely not be possible unless the African Union troops get the kind of logistical and financial support that analysts said the U.N. could provide.

But analysts cautioned that the U.N. would be inheriting a problematic force.

Chadian troops, while seasoned and well-equipped, have tended to act autonomously in the CAR. They also may not meet standards for integration into a U.N. force.

The rest of the AU force has been weighed down by logistical issues, like delays transporting troops from their home countries.

The spokesman for the CAR's ex-rebel leader-turned-president said it was too soon to talk about blue helmets.

Presidential spokesman Guy Simplice Kodegue said they haven't even got the 6,000 African Union soldiers on the ground yet and that force doesn't have the appropriate funds in place.  He said, "let's focus on that instead of jumping ahead."

But some say a U.N. force would offer more guarantees of impartiality.

The French are accused of not cracking down on the mainly Christian militias and instead focusing on disarming the mainly Muslim rebels who plunged the country into chaos last March.

Chadian troops are accused of siding with those ex-Seleka rebels.

Head of research at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra, Kwesi Aning, said re-hatting to the U.N. could mean more legitimacy.

"A U.N. force is better equipped, is better trained and is [more] ready to protect civilians," said Aning.

He said a U.N. approach was also more comprehensive. "The U.N. doesn't just say we are going in to separate the different parties.  The U.N. comes in and seeks to rebuild fundamental institutional infrastructure."

That's something that analysts said was essential for the CAR, which has mired in political unrest and poor humanitarian conditions for decades.

Jose Richard Pouambi contributed reporting from Bangui.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs