6 November 2017
8084th Meeting (AM)

Head of Peacekeeping Mission in Central African Republic Recommends Troop Increase, Decisive Action by Leaders to Staunch Fresh Violence

Permanent Representative Urges Support for Flexible New Mandate, Resources

Urgent, decisive action was needed by leaders in the Central African Republic in partnership with the international community to reverse a new spiral of violence that interrupted progress in the political transition, the top United Nations official there told the Security Council this morning.

“We count on your support to ensure that this current cycle of violence in the [Central African Republic] is broken and the resilience and hope shown by so many Central Africans is maintained”, Parfait Onanga‑Anyanga, Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country, told the 15‑member body as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest quarterly report (document S/2017/865).

The report describes the political, security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic as examined in a high‑level event with President Faustin‑Archange Touadera, held on the margins of the General Assembly in September.  It recommends augmenting the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), led by Mr. Onanga‑Ayanga, by 900 troops.

Also briefing this morning were Bedializoun Moussa Nebie, Special Representative of the African Union to the Central African Republic, and Mauro Garofalo, Head of International Relations of the Community of Sant’Egidio.

Recounting the Secretary‑General’s visit to the Central African Republic only a few days ago, Mr. Onanga‑Anyanga said the proposed troop increase that he recommended should include highly mobile troops, so that the Mission could cover a much wider area.  Although they had helped maintain stability in the capital, Bangui, and had increased patrolling outside of it, the Mission was overstretched because of violence recurring over a large swathe of territory, particularly in the southeast and northwest.  Ugandan troops had drawn back as well, he said.

Serious incidents in the past year had resulted in much loss of life, he said, due to clashes involving anti‑Balaka forces, Fulani fighters, the ex‑Séléka militia and other groups.  Banditry and other inter-community tensions continued.  In addition to national security personnel, 13 humanitarian workers and 12 peacekeepers had lost their lives.  There were now 600,000 people internally displaced, as well as a half million refugees in neighbouring countries.

He said that in the Secretary‑General’s proposed plan, protection of civilians would be strengthened, while early warning capabilities and humanitarian reach would be extended.  Support would be increased to the judicial and security sector, in cooperation with partners such as the European Union.  He pledged, at the same time, that they would respect the need for zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse.  Concerted actions had already resulted in fewer incidents.

The Mission would also continue to support political progress, he said.  It was crucial to ensure implementation of the peace consolidation plan by mobilizing resources.  The roadmap initiated by the African Union, in particular, offered hope for a sustainable end to the crisis, and he pledged close coordination between MINUSCA and all stakeholders to ensure its success.

Assuring the stability of the entire country required strengthening of State institutions at the local level as well, he said, an effort that MINUSCA would continue to support with the rest of the United Nations system.  While there had been progress in the peace consolidation plan and economic recovery, more than two million people were in urgent need of food, and humanitarian funds were inadequate.  In addition, thousands of displaced persons were taking refuge near MINUSCA camps with renewed tensions keeping them from returning.

Describing progress in building judicial capacity to end impunity, he said the creation of the Special Court was essential to extend rule of law throughout the Central African Republic.  In addition, dialogue, tolerance and compromise in many areas were needed to keep ethnic and religious affiliations from stoking violence.

Speaking via video‑teleconference from Bangui, Mr. Nébié said the African Union Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation had established all structures to make its road map operational during an 11 September meeting, and a facilitation panel was planning to meet with armed groups.  MINUSCA would provide logistical, financial and security support for the Initiative, with a dialogue between the Government and armed groups organized for February.  The obstacles to the Initiative included the lack of trust between the Government and others, weak governance, poverty, religious manipulation, security and a low level of education.

As the Security Council considered the renewal of MINUSCA’s mandate, he requested support for the Initiative, including financial resources, and welcomed an increase of the number of Blue Helmets.  He also asked that the weapons embargo be eased to allow the Government to equip its security and defence forces in a transparent manner.  As poverty continued to fuel armed groups, he called for more quick impact projects and humanitarian assistance, and an end to impunity for economic crimes such as corruption.

Mr. Garofalo, in his briefing, said the Secretary‑General’s visit had already had a positive effect in the country.  There was a need for more such signals to counter the pessimistic narrative that had become the norm and to reverse the long‑standing lack of trust.  Rebuilding the social fabric, improving relations between groups and institution-building were part of that effort.

The Community of Sant’Egidio was carrying out a demobilization and reintegration programme, along with a range of related projects, he said.  Results had been encouraging with the first 200 ex‑combatants, though some of the armed groups had been cooperating more quickly than others.  The initial success should spark more positive developments, improve trust and build credibility.  At the same time, protection of civilians was critical.  He thanked the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and other actors for their work towards those goals.

Following those presentations, several Council members took the floor to express concern over the persistence of violence in the Central African Republic and comment on the Secretary‑General’s report.  Luis Bermúdez (Uruguay) called on leaders of the armed groups to commit to an immediate cease fire and abide by their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration commitments.  It was critical that the international community continue its support of the Government and the African Union Initiative.  He supported the increase in MINUSCA’s resources and capacities.

Pedro Luis Inchauste Jordán (Bolivia), in addition, said the challenges should be addressed through an inclusive dialogue and fulfilment of commitments by all parties.  He encouraged all armed groups to set aside their sectarian interests and to submit to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.  While welcoming an augmentation of MINUSCA’s capacity, he said the main responsibility for peace-making rested with the country’s people.

Petr V. Iliichev (Russian Federation) said the priority was to meet humanitarian needs, allowing the return of displaced persons and restoration of State institutions country‑wide.  Expressing support for the report’s recommendations, he called on all parties to implement their agreements.  Central African Republic authorities must continue to build national capacity in all areas, including the court of justice, he said, recalling that such mechanisms were not panaceas and that all initiatives must be harmonized.  The Russian Federation would examine the proposal for increasing troop strength, but he expressed concern over recent trouble with contingents that had to be sent home.  Management of international resources must also be improved.  His country would continue its contributions, including air transport, he pledged.

Didar Temenov (Kazakhstan) said attention should focus on the interlinked components of security, institution‑building and development.  He urged all stakeholders to engage in reconciliation and praised initiatives for that purpose.  It was crucial to implement the national recovery and peacebuilding plan at the same time, he stressed, calling on donors to fulfil their commitments in that regard.  He commended MINUSCA, noting that it should focus on all its core tasks, among them, protecting civilians, supporting the political processes and ensuring humanitarian access.  Security, meanwhile, must be bolstered through human rights, as well as progress on the humanitarian and development fronts.

Finally, Ambroisine Kpongo (Central African Republic) expressed hope that the Secretary‑General’s visit to her country ‑ an historic and symbolic event ‑ would bring some measure of change.  His meeting with all parties had provided him with an opportunity to come to grips with the challenges faced, and to take stock of all that still must be accomplished.

Recalling the Secretary‑General’s appeal for more attention by the international community to the plight of her people, she hailed the perfect collaboration between her Government and the Special Representative in addressing the complex crisis, stressing the need for adequate resources to implement the roadmap.  She asked the Council to support a new mandate with the necessary flexibility to address the new challenges.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:10 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.