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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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 Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid