News / Africa

EU Force to Create ‘Safe Haven’ in Central African Republic

French soldiers search a house used as an armed cache in the Christian sector of PK12, the last checkpoint at the exit of the town, Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 11, 2014.
French soldiers search a house used as an armed cache in the Christian sector of PK12, the last checkpoint at the exit of the town, Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 11, 2014.
Reuters
— The small military force the European Union plans to send to violence-torn Central African Republic will focus on swiftly creating a safe haven in part of the capital Bangui, its French commander said on Thursday.
 
The 500-strong force will have just six months from when it becomes fully operational to help improve security and so “must attain visible results very quickly,” Major-General Philippe Ponties told a news conference.
 
“The aim is to establish in our area of operations a kind of safe haven [in a limited area of Bangui] where people could feel secure,” he said.
 
Almost a million people, or a quarter of the population of the former French colony, have been displaced by fighting which erupted after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group seized power in March last year in the majority Christian country.
 
Seleka leader Michel Djotodia gave up power last month as Christian militias stepped up their attacks on Muslims. At least 2,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict.
 
One of the EU force's missions will be to provide security at Bangui airport, where up to 100,000 people who have fled the violence are living in dire conditions.
 
France sent 1,600 troops to the large landlocked country in December to assist some 5,000 African Union peacekeepers.
 
In response to appeals by President Francois Hollande for more European support, the 28-nation EU has acted unusually quickly to put together a military force, although it will be small and may include some French soldiers.
 
EU officials hope the first European soldiers could start arriving in Bangui next month.

Hazardous
 
The normally cautious EU is sending soldiers into a potentially dangerous environment, in contrast to the military training missions it usually undertakes.
 
Ponties, who visited Bangui last week, said the situation there was “broadly calm now, but very tense, volatile and very unpredictable”.
 
The force will aim to create a secure environment in its area, allow humanitarian groups to work and displaced people to return home. It will stay for up to six months before handing over to the AU force.
 
It is not yet clear who will supply the troops for the EU operation, whose cost is put at 26 million euros ($35.5 million).
 
At a “force generation” conference in Brussels on Thursday, six EU states offered “substantial” contributions of soldiers or police. Estonia and non-EU member Georgia have already voiced readiness to offer troops, a diplomatic source said, declining to name the countries.
 
A second “force generation” conference will be held in late February to fill any gaps.
 
Six non-EU countries - Canada, Georgia, Norway, Serbia, Turkey and the United States - took part in Thursday's conference, the source said, adding that some nations wanted to provide equipment or logistical support rather than troops.
 
The EU force plans to use surveillance drones, provided EU governments are prepared to supply them, Ponties said.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid