Briefing on Central African Republic
Tomorrow (24 June), Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the newly-established UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Babacar Gaye will brief the Security Council via video-teleconference from Bangui. He is expected to focus on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and on the ongoing preparations for the deployment of MINUSCA, established on 10 April by resolution 2149. Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will update members on her 24-26 May trip to the CAR. The briefing will be followed by consultations. At press time, no outcome was anticipated.
Council members will be eager to receive an update from Gaye on preparations for the deployment of MINUSCA, which is intended to assume the responsibilities of the African-led International Support Mission to the CAR (MISCA) as of 15 September. The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR will also be integrated into MINUSCA. While MINUSCA has been authorised for an initial deployment of up to 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel, it seems that there has been little progress on recruitment of troops from outside of MISCA and it is unlikely that the troop quota will be filled by 15 September. There seem to be some logistical delays in the anticipated deployment as well. Council members will be interested in possible consequences of the slow mobilisation and will be keen to receive an assessment from Gaye on how this may affect the efficacy of the mission and its ability to operate in its key areas: protection of civilians; supporting the implementation of the transitional political process and the restoration of state authority; facilitating humanitarian assistance; promoting and protecting human rights, supporting national and international justice and rule of law efforts; and supporting security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation efforts.
Members of the Council will also be looking forward to receiving an update on the situation on the ground, which remains dire. Thousands are estimated to have been killed in the CAR since 24 March 2013, when the predominantly Muslim Séléka rebel group ousted President François Bozizé. Over the last year, Christian anti-balaka militias have increased attacks against Muslims, who constitute roughly 15 percent of the population, and as a result, thousands of Muslims have fled towards the majority Muslim north-east, creating a religious divide and Séléka and anti-balaka zones of influence. According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of internally displaced persons across the CAR is 557,000, including 132,000 in Bangui. Since December 2013, nearly 121,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. Half of the population—2.5 million—urgently need protection and relief to meet their most basic needs.
The security situation is also likely to be on Council members’ minds. In a recent deadly attack, the Notre Dame de Fatima church in Bangui, which was hosting 9,000 internally displaced people, was attacked on 28 May, resulting in the deaths of at least 17 people and the reported abduction of 27 civilians by the assailants, who drove them to an unknown location. On 30 May, Council members issued a press statement (SC/11423), condemning in the strongest terms the recent attacks and calling on member states and regional and international organisations to increase troop, financial and logistical support to MISCA to enable it to implement its mandate fully and help prepare for the transfer of authority from MISCA to MINUSCA on 15 September.
On the the situation of women in the CAR, Mlambo-Ngcuka will update members on her 24-26 May joint mission to the CAR with AU Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security Bineta Diop. Mlambo-Ngcuka and Diop met with transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza, Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke, Special Representative Gaye, religious leaders and members of civil society, including the High-Level Women’s Advisory Group.
Council members will be interested to hear recommendations from Mlambo-Ngcuka on how the Council can integrate a strong women, peace and security angle into their consideration of the CAR. She is expected to convey recommendations for a gender architecture for MINUSCA which would cover the the function, placement and reporting lines of women protection advisers and gender advisers within the mission. Regarding electoral support, Mlambo-Ngcuka is expected to advocate for temporary special measures for women’s representation and for the UN to effectively support the full participation of women as voters and candidates. She is also expected to highlight the existing capacity of UN Women and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to provide all troop-contributing countries training on prevention of sexual violence in fulfilling their protection mandate. Finally, she is likely to discuss women’s access to justice and accountability through the CAR Commission of Inquiry and the International Criminal Court.
Following tomorrow’s briefing and consultations, the interim report of the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee will be presented to the Council on 25 June. The report, which was circulated to Council members earlier this month, highlights the connection between control and illicit trade of natural resources—such as diamonds, gold and ivory—and the funding for the activities of the Séléka and the anti-balaka. It also documents violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by various actors. Looking ahead members will be briefed next month by the Committee chair, Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), and hold consultations on this report.