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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid