The situation in the Central African Republic - Security Council, 9156th Meeting

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19-Oct-2022 02:22:56
Briefing Security Council on Central African Republic, mission head voices concern over resurgence of armed groups, despite progress in restoring state authority.

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The situation in the Central African Republic remains a cause for international concern, with violence from resurgent armed groups and ongoing instability at all levels, speakers told the Security Council today as it addressed the mandate of the mission there.

Valentine Rugwabiza, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Head of United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), expressed her condolences to the families of the blue helmets who were struck and killed by explosive devices, paying further tribute to the memory of all the peacekeepers who sacrificed their lives. She called on the Central African Republic Government to lift the ban on night flights, stressing they are essential for the safety and security of blue helmets, humanitarian actors, civilians and people in humanitarian need.

She stressed a critical analysis of the progress made in implementing the strategic priorities of MINUSCA’s mandate is necessary with respect to safeguarding progress in implementation of the mandate; prospects for decentralizing the political and peace process; and the extension of the State’s authority. On the security front, she said the Mission’s preventative and proactive approach has enabled the functioning of the territorial administration and the cutting off of the supply routes of armed groups. MINUSCA will continue to support the redeployment of the domestic defense and security forces in accordance with a due diligence policy and with respect for human rights, she affirmed.

Voicing concern about the resurgence of armed groups’ activity, she said the Mission is holding joint operations with national defence and security forces to stamp out those threats, protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian assistance, and support the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. She recounted that on 14 September, dialogue began between the President and the leaders of 11 armed groups with a view to their dissolution. She called on the Government to implement its strategy for re-engaging armed groups under the Luanda Road Map to ensure the effectiveness of the ceasefire and renunciation of violence, with the support of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Any delay implementing the political component of the road map is likely to compromise gains and expose the population to new risks of violence.

Noting progress in restoring the authority of the State, including the redeployment of the defence and security forces and civil servants, strengthening of the judicial system and promotion of transitional justice mechanisms, she called on the Council and other Member States to increase their financial support and provision of expertise to the Court. Humanitarian needs remain alarming, she said, calling for the continued mobilization of humanitarian partners. “There is still real hope for peace in the Central African Republic,” she underscored.

In the ensuing debate, delegates expressed concern over the growing violence, conflict and other issues, including the prohibition of night flights.

The representative of the United States stressed that if MINUSCA had been able to repatriate the Bangladeshi peacekeepers by air rather than by land — which took nine days — they would surely be alive today. Noting illicit arms flows have adverse consequences for the security of civilians, he stressed that sanctions therefore remain essential until the authorities have resolved the issue of cross-border arms trafficking. He warned that the military component itself will not be enough to bring peace. Citing the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, whose forces have committed human rights abuses, often in the presence of Central African Republic armed forces, he stressed: “The people of the Central African Republic deserve better.”

However, the Russian Federation’s delegate pushed back on that narrative, stressing the current sanctions regime must be modified, adding that the arms embargo should be fully lifted. Referring to comments made by other colleagues regarding her country’s interaction with Central Africa, she said military instructors were sent to the Central African Republic at the country’s request, in line with international law and with the knowledge of the Council’s 2127 Committee. This cooperation provides training for the country’s armed forces and the country’s stabilization, she said, stressing that it is the State’s sovereign prerogative to choose its partners in a given area.

Gabon’s delegate, Security Council President for the month, speaking in his national capacity as well as for Ghana and Kenya, condemned attacks against MINUSCA personnel, pointing out that such acts are liable to constitute war crimes. Central African Republic authorities must conduct enquiries and ensure the perpetrators are held accountable. On human rights, he welcomed positive developments, including through the holding of hearings in Bangui and Bouar and of the Special Criminal Court, and welcomed MINUSCA’s support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Turning to the security front, he welcomed the authorities’ efforts to tackle armed groups and gains made on the ground, stating that those groups impede security by sowing chaos and attacking civilians through the use of explosive ordnances. MINUSCA’s efforts have had tangible results on the ground — however, their operational capacity must be increased. As long as demand persists for the country’s natural resources, “the blood of innocent Central Africans will continue to run”, he said.

Rwanda’s delegate reaffirmed his country’s commitment to its partnership with the Central African Republic, including implementing the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region joint road map. Noting Rwanda is the top troop- and police-contributor to MINUSCA, he stressed that bilateral military intervention can complement the work of the United Nations and create a suitable environment for the peace process. He also expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Government in fighting misinformation and disinformation on peacekeepers and bilateral forces.

He emphasized that sustainable peace can only be attained through the constructive participation of the people. Disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation are crucial aspects, while the uncontrolled proliferation of arms threatens peace and security in the country. Welcoming cooperation between the national authority and the Mission, which resulted in the collection of 255 guns, 11,738 rounds of ammunition, 12 grenades, 22 rockets and 13 rocket launchers, he stressed the role of security sector reform in creating a secure and stable environment.

Sylvie Valérie Baipo Temon, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Francophonie and Central Africans abroad of the Central African Republic, called for increased support to create the environment to defeat forces of evil. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the road map have revitalized the peace process, she noted, citing a joint timetable dealing with armed groups, repatriation, demobilization, border control and restoring the authority of the State. She further noted the number of displaced persons has been reduced to 500,000, with fewer disinformation campaigns and less hateful rhetoric.

The Government is tackling inflation, lack of basic goods, fuel prices and illicit exploitation of natural resources by armed groups. However, she noted the report contained inconsistencies about violations of freedom of movement by MINUSCA and restrictions on night flights. The Government cannot have unauthorized equipment arriving through MINUSCA and must react when it finds weapons in trucks that are not properly labelled. Stressing that the Bangladeshi peacekeepers died due to mines laid by an armed group, she called for all parties to work together despite political differences. However, she recommended that renewal of the MINUSCA mandate consider the fixing of specific objectives and strategic planning.

Also speaking were the representatives of France, Albania, Ireland, China, Mexico, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Norway, United Kingdom and India.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.

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