Expected Council Action
In December, François Louncény Fall, Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), is expected to brief the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on UNOCA and the implementation of the UN regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The mandate of UNOCA expires on 31 August 2021.
Key Recent Developments
The region covered by UNOCA continues to present multiple challenges, including several security and political hotspots that are situations on the Council’s agenda. Following a 10 August exchange of letters with the Secretary-General renewing UNOCA’s mandate until 31 August 2021, the Council adopted a presidential statement welcoming the renewal and expressing concern about the persistent violence perpetrated by armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), the ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and an increase in violence in parts of Cameroon. The statement furthermore recognised the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters as factors affecting the stability of the region. The Council asked the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic review of the scope of UNOCA’s mandate and activities and to present recommendations to the Council by 1 August 2019 about new or refocused priorities as well as areas that could be improved. The Council expressed its intention to consider these recommendations, including any proposed changes to the mandate, by 31 August 2019.
The CAR situation is marked by lawlessness, lack of state authority, and fighting among the predominantly Muslim ex-Séléka factions, between the ex-Séléka and the Christian anti-Balaka groups, and between the ex-Séléka and other rebel groups, resulting in attacks against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian actors. On 15 November, the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) was extended in a technical rollover until 15 December.
In the DRC, numerous armed groups continue to wreak havoc on civilians in the east, accompanied by intercommunal violence in other regions. The political situation is marked by preparations for the long-overdue elections, scheduled for 23 December 2018. Focusing on the electoral period, the Council visited the DRC on 5-7 October and met with several stakeholders, including President Joseph Kabila, who has announced that he will not run for re-election after a long period of uncertainty.
The Security Council has been following the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri. According to the World Health Organisation, as at 24 November there have been 412 confirmed cases and 47 probable cases of Ebola, with 236 confirmed Ebola-related deaths and 47 probable Ebola-related deaths. On 30 October, the Council adopted resolution 2439, emphasising the importance of continued international support, including financial assistance, in bringing the Ebola outbreak under control.
The political situation in Burundi is also of concern to the Council following the adoption of amendments that changed important provisions and safeguards in the constitution, which implemented the 2000 Arusha Accord that ended the civil war in Burundi. Special Advisor on Burundi Michel Kafando briefed the Council on the latest developments on 21 November.
The LRA has remained active over recent months and poses a serious threat to civilians in parts of the DRC and the CAR. Reports indicate that it continues to abduct children and to loot in these countries. On 15 October, for example, a suspected LRA group raided Mangbungulu in Bas Uele in the DRC, looting drugs and food from the local health centre and reportedly abducting 16 people, including 12 children.
UNOCA also continues to pay close attention to the situation in Cameroon, a country not on the Council’s agenda. Since late 2016, there has been unrest in Cameroon’s anglophone regions, rooted in claims of long-standing political and economic discrimination by the francophone authorities against the minority anglophone population. The violence has resulted in over 400 deaths. On 5 November, 82 people, mostly children, were kidnapped from a boarding school in Bafut, near Bamenda. All were released by 12 November. The government has blamed anglophone rebels for the kidnapping, but they have denied responsibility. On 13 November, at least 15 people were killed in fighting between Cameroon army troops and separatist rebels.
Key Issues and Options
Central issues are the deteriorating security situations in the CAR and eastern DRC. The political crises in the DRC and Burundi and their potential regional implications will continue to concern the Council.
While Cameroon is not on the Council’s agenda, the Council included the country in its 2017 visit to the Lake Chad region. Council members may use the UNOCA briefing to call attention to the deteriorating situation in the country and suggest ways to increase the Council’s engagement, including by adding it to the Council’s agenda or by discussing it in informal settings.
Council members have been supportive of UNOCA’s continued shift to focus its efforts on the region, rather than on the LRA alone, as its main objective. Council members are concerned about the political turmoil in several countries and the effect it could have on security and stability in the region.
Although some Council members have expressed interest in the situation in Cameroon, at this point it seems there is no appetite to add new country-specific situations in the region to the Council’s agenda.
The UK is the penholder on this issue.
UN Documents on UNOCA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|15 November 2018S/RES/2446||This resolution extended the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 December.|
|30 October 2018S/RES/2439||The Council adopted unanimously a resolution on Ebola in the DRC.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|10 August 2018S/PRST/2018/17||This was a presidential statement welcoming the renewal of UNOCA’s mandate for another three years, from 1 September to 31 August 2021.|
|1 June 2018S/2018/521||This is a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of UNOCA.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|13 June 2018S/PV.8284||This was a briefing by Special Representative for Central Africa and head of UNOCA
François Louncény Fall on the latest UNOCA report (S/2018/521).
|Security Council Letters|
|28 November 2018S/2018/790||This was a letter from the Security Council to the Secretary-General regarding the UNOCA mandate renewal until 31 August 2021.|
|24 August 2018S/2018/789||This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the Security Council regarding the UNOCA renewal until 31 August 2021|