Briefing on the Central African Republic by UN Peackeeping and Humanitarian Heads
Tomorrow (16 November), Council members will be briefed in consultations on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien.
It seems that Ladsous will be seeking the Council’s approval to strengthen the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). He is expected to expand on the needs of the mission and the background for the request. He would like to deploy through inter-mission cooperation 300 Senegalese troops from a quick reaction force currently serving in Côte d’Ivoire to assist in providing security ahead of the elections, now scheduled for 27 December, for a period of six weeks. The formal request is expected to come from the Secretary-General in a letter to the Council President. It is unclear how the Council will respond but apparently a letter to the Secretary-General approving the troop increase is a possibility although troop increases in the past have generally been authorised through a resolution.
O’Brien, who visited the Central African Republic from 20 – 23 October, will update Council members on the humanitarian situation in the country. In a statement made on 22 October as he was concluding his visit, O’Brien said that the situation in the CAR needs the world’s attention and that the many internally displaced must be provided with “shelter, assistance and protection, until such time as the conditions are sufficient for their voluntary return.” He also announced the release of $12 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support life-saving assistance for people affected by the renewed violence in the CAR.
The recent crisis was sparked in Bangui on 26 September, when the discovery of the body of a Muslim man led to violence between Muslims and Christians and attacks by armed gangs on civilians. Over 40 people were killed and roughly 40,000 people displaced. The deterioration in the security situation prompted the interim government to cancel the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 October. A constitutional referendum that was scheduled for 4 October did not take place either. The referendum has now been set for 13 December and the first round of elections for 27 December, with a second round on 31 January if necessary.
Council members may be particularly interested in more information on the events which led to attacks on two camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) that killed eight people, and the fatal shooting of a UN peacekeeper. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 10 November, rebel fighters entered the Batangafo camp and killed five people, reportedly to avenge the killing of two young Muslim men earlier that day in the same camp. Some 5,500 people fled the camp to a nearby MONUSCO base and a Médecins Sans Frontiéres compound. Following that outbreak of violence, a Cameroonian peacekeeper was shot dead in an attack on a MINUSCA checkpoint. Council members issued a press statement condemning these incidents on 11 November and called on the CAR authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice (SC/12116). In another incident, armed men believed to be ex-Seleka fighters attacked an IDP site in Bambari on 12 November, killing three people and wounding more than 30, according to initial media reports.
Another issue of concern for Council members are reports of new allegations of sexual violence by MINUSCA peacekeepers against five women, including reportedly three minors. The mission apparently has begun an investigation into the matter, and the head of the mission, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, vowed to take swift measures if the allegations are confirmed. In August, the Secretary-General asked for the resignation of then head of MINUSCA, Babacar Gaye, following the revelation of incidents of sexual violence by MINUSCA troops.
Ladsous last briefed Council members on the situation in the CAR under “any other business” on 7 October. Following the briefing, the Council adopted a presidential statement on 20 October, expressing its deep concern about the recent upsurge of violence and instability and reiterating the importance of holding the constitutional referendum and first rounds of presidential and legislative elections by the end of 2015 (S/PRST/2015/17).