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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid