Still Time to Stop Clashes among Armed Groups from Eroding State-Building Gains in Central African Republic, Top Official Tells Security Council

It was not too late to stop clashes among armed groups seeking to exploit natural resources from eroding progress towards building an effective, accountable and inclusive State in the Central African Republic, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, warning about the risk of escalating violence and increased suffering inflicted on the strife-torn nation’s population.

Several recent outbreaks of violence in Bangui and the interior demonstrated the extent to which the country still needed the full buy-in of the Council, stressed Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as he briefed the 15-member Council on recent developments.

Following those clashes in April and the beginning of May there had been signs of calm and peace, he said, although threats of attacks by radical elements had continued to stoke fears among the population. Such worrying rhetoric had been exploited by certain politicians who used the instability to fuel fear along ethnic or religious grounds.

The Central African Republic could not afford more clashes among armed groups seeking to pillage and exploit natural resources, he said, emphasizing that the restoration of State authority was key to stabilizing the situation in the short-term and the country at large in the long-term. To achieve that, the State Administration must become increasingly visible and effective in the interior.

Moreover, the persistent, dire humanitarian situation remained cause for concern, he said, noting that one in four Central Africans had been forced to abandon his or her home. More than 688,000 people remained internally displaced and another 568,000 were refugees in neighbouring countries, while attacks against staff from aid agencies made the Central African Republic the most dangerous place for relief workers in the world.

Bedializoun Moussa Nebie, Special Representative of the African Union to the Central African Republic, detailed the activities of the panel of facilitators that had visited the country in February and April for a second round of consultations and a resulting interim report in March. The panel had received detailed information from 14 armed groups, he said, drawing attention to the new commitment on the part of the President to consider the panel’s results.

Turning to funding needs, he said the panel intended to finalize its work in the coming weeks. There had been efforts to mobilize funds, yet a gap of $3 million remained. Failure is not an option. The only option is the success of the dialogue and a return to peace, he emphasized, adding that calm in the country was a necessary pre-requisite for peace.

Herminio Teodoro Maio, Force Commander of the European Union Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic, briefing via videoconference from Bangui, said his mission’s mandate included providing strategic advice and training to the Ministry of Defense and the Central African armed forces. In that connection, the mission had completed the training and validation of 3,000 soldiers, including three infantry battalions.

Nevertheless, the crisis in the Central African Republic would not be resolved through the use of military force, he said, underlining the importance of the political negotiation process leading to national reconciliation. The commitment of the countries of the region and implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process were vital.

The representative of the Central African Republic stressed that MINUSCA must be endowed with the capacity and equipment it needed to respond to and withstand the multiple situations of tension and violence that the Mission was facing. The panel of facilitators was carrying out laudable work and the country hoped the consultations under way would result in an understanding among all parties to the conflict.

Council members expressed concern about the recent clashes that had taken place in Bangui and elsewhere, detailed in the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the Central African Republic (document S/2018/611), and called for inclusive dialogue among the parties to resolve differences peacefully.

Echoing other delegates, the representative of Poland said that the recent violence against civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers had resulted in numerous causalities, hindered the peace process and compromised the country’s economic recovery.

Ethiopia’s representative said that at a recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, which his Government currently chaired, participants stressed that the illegal exploitation of minerals and other resources as a tool to fund the operations of armed groups, including with the help of neighbouring countries, was an alarming development. The country needed greater attention from the Council to retain whatever progress had been achieved in the past two years.

The speaker for France agreed, stressing that the Council must fully support the President and Central African authorities as they tried to restore peace in the country, with a particular focus on helping to promote justice and disarm armed groups. The message of the Council to those group should be firm � that they had to put down their weapons and engaged in peace talks, and would face consequences for any violations.

Sweden’s representative strongly supported the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and welcomed the conclusion of the second round of consultations, stressing that the African Union should continue to make advancing the Initiative a priority.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Peru, Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom, Netherlands, CAte d’Ivoire, United States, Kuwait, Bolivia, China, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 10:07 and ended at 12:12.

Briefing

PARFAIT ONANGA-ANYANGA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), said the most recent developments in the country demonstrated the extent to which it still needed the full buy-in of the Security Council. There had been several outbreaks of violence in Bangui and the interior of the country in April and the beginning of May, although since then, there had been signs of calm and peace. Threats of attacks by radical elements had continued to stoke fears among the population, despite the relative calm, he said, stressing that such worrying rhetoric had been exploited by certain politicians that used the instability to fuel fear based on ethnic or religious grounds. Armed groups continued to exert influence in parts of the country, jeopardizing the lives of civilians. In that context, MINUSCA sought to carry out its protection of civilians’ mandate despite being overwhelmed and its staff being the targets of continued threats.

The volatile security situation and the ongoing clashes continued to have a negative impact on the ongoing political process, he said. He pointed to the strategic role played by the Peacebuilding Fund, noting that the International Support Group of the Central African Republic had met in Bangui on 11 April, which sent a strong signal to the population that the international community had not forgotten the Central African people. For the peace process to be successful, it must be inclusive and framed within the spirit of the Constitution. MINUSCA continued to work in close cooperation with local peace and reconciliation initiatives with a view to, among other aims, increasing humanitarian access and facilitating the handing over of arms. Such initiatives had helped to foster favourable conditions for a more comprehensive peace process.

He said that the restoration of State authority throughout the entire country remained essential to stabilizing the situation and setting the Central African Republic on a path to long-term stability. In that connection, it was essential that the State Administration become increasingly visible and effective in the interior of the country. He was particularly encouraged by the progressive deployment of magistrates in new areas and the opening of tribunals outside of Bangui, while the steps initiated by the Head of State to advance transitional justice were also encouraging. Justice and reconciliation must indeed progress simultaneously, he stressed, highlighting that the gradual deployments of Central African armed forces and the gendarmerie and police outside of Bangui had also contributed to increasing the State’s capacity nationwide.

The persistent, dire humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic remained cause for concern, he said, noting that one in four Central Africans had been forced to abandon his or her home. More than 688,000 people remained internally displaced and another 568,000 were refugees in neighbouring countries. Attacks against aid workers made the Central African Republic the most dangerous place for relief workers in the world. The Central African people urgently needed the assistance of international partners to fill the humanitarian funding gap, he said, underlining that only 4 per cent of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan had been funded, leaving many priority regions without assistance.

The risk of escalating violence and the unnecessary suffering inflicted on the population demanded the international community’s full attention and support, he said. The country could not afford more clashes among armed groups seeking to pillage and exploit natural resources, he said, stressing that it was not too late to stop such predatory behaviour from eroding progress towards building an effective, accountable and inclusive Central African State. Nor was it too late to prevent religion and ethnicity from becoming the driving factor of conflict. Central Africans remained desperate to see a functioning State and an end to the criminal activities of armed groups.

BA�DIALIZOUN MOUSSA NA�BIA�, Special Representative of the African Union to the Central African Republic, covered several points during his discussion. One included the activities of a panel of facilitators that had visited the country in February and April for a second round of consultations and a resulting interim report in March. The panel had received detailed information from 14 armed groups. There was calm in some areas and there was a new commitment on the part of the President to consider its results.

He referred to the unfortunate incidents in April that led to fatalities. On 15 May to 1 June, there was an intensive dialogue with groups inland and in Bangui to convince them to not escalate the situation. Calm in the country was necessary as the best possible way to provide peace. There had been a return to calm since the middle of May. Turning to the preparation for a dialogue, he said such preparations included the armed groups, the President and civil society. The aim was to show the armed groups that calm was the best way to resolve the conflict. The panel, which was preparing people’s minds for a calm and tolerant dialogue, was on the right path for preparation of the dialogue.

Turning to funding needs, he said the panel intended to finalize its work in the coming weeks. There had been efforts to mobilize funds, yet a gap of $3 million remained. He thanked the United States, which had recently paid $500,000 for the budget of the panel, the European Union and others. Failure is not an option. The only option is the success of the dialogue and a return to peace, he said. The international actors on the ground had to be supported to promote a return to peace in the country. He hoped that Council members would support the panel’s work.

HERMA�NIO TEODORO MAIO, Force Commander of the European Union Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic, briefing via videoconference from Bangui, said the mission mandate included providing strategic advice and training to the Ministry of Defense and the Central African armed forces. The European Union Military Training Mission had completed the training and validation of 3,000 soldiers, including three infantry battalions. He underscored the need for close coordination with MINUSCA on all defense issues. All actors agreed on the need to restore State authority as a key factor in resolving the crisis in Central African Republic, so the progressive redeployment of armed and internal security forces was an essential element for enabling the return of public services to the entire territory as well as to deter armed groups.

Armed forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission had already deployed with the support of MINUSCA, despite considerable logistical and technical challenges, he said. MINUSCA remained a critical partner through its support for joint deployments of military operations, he said, although it was important to bear in mind that the immediate deployment of national armed forces faced a wide range of challenges. In that context, immediate deployments must be considered as a transition phase, with the garrison deployments serving as the ideal long-term model. The crisis in the Central African Republic would not be resolved through the use of military force, he said, underlining the importance of the political negotiation process leading to national reconciliation. The commitment of the countries of the region and implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process were absolutely essential if peace was to be achieved in the country.

Statements

FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France) expressed concern about the violence against civilians, humanitarian groups and troops of MINUSCA. It was essential that the Council express its full support to the President and Central African authorities as they were trying to restore peace in the country. It was important to help the authorities promote justice and the disarmament of armed groups and efforts towards peace in the country. Progress had been made. The violence by armed groups was accompanied by violations of human rights. It was imperative for all armed groups to stop those violations. The message of the Council should be firm to the armed groups: that they had to put down their weapons and engaged in peace talks, and would face ramifications for their violations. He reminded the Council that they had tools to use against the armed groups. It was urgent to achieve the reach road map. An inclusive dialogue that involved all parties, including women, was necessary. It was necessary to support all activities to ensure the success of the road map.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru) said that his delegation was disturbed to see that efforts to restore State authority had not yet taken hold in the Central African Republic, expressing regret that most of the country lived under the shadow of a permanent state of conflict. He underlined the vital work of MINUSCA and stressed the need to provide the Mission with the necessary support. It was important to work towards job creation, particularly for young people, to help them avoid falling into the hands of dangerous armed groups. There was a pressing need to generate synergies between the United Nations and the relevant regional organizations and neighbouring countries. Peru underscored the challenging role to be played by MINUSCA in a very complex and hostile environment, and stressed the need to guarantee the security of Blue Helmets on the ground.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) expressed concern about the resurgence of violence in the Central African Republic and the fact that armed groups were controlling large swaths of the country. The constant and deliberate attacks aimed at preventing MINUSCA from fulfilling its mandate were utterly unacceptable and must be condemned, as they constituted war crimes. He underscored that national ownership must include the active participation of all political stakeholders and all members of society. It was essential to steer the peace process forward and ensure that it took into account the socioeconomic needs of all segments of society. He welcomed the training provided to units of the Central African Republic armed forces, which had allowed them to support MINUSCA, further contributing to the strengthening of national authority. He drew attention to the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation, which had triggered further flight to neighbouring countries.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) expressed great concern about the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic where one-quarter of the population had been forced to flee their homes. The United Kingdom had given $9 million for humanitarian needs in 2018. He called on all armed groups to cease all violence and urged all groups and individuals to cease the incitement of violence on ethnic and religious grounds. Individuals in positions of leadership had a particular responsibility to stop those acts of incitement. The Council had to send a clear message that there would be consequences as progress was made in the creation of a justice system and legal system. A well-trained peacekeeping force would help to build support and create an environment for peace. An inclusive political peace process would be the best route to achieve peace in the country. The African Union’s support for regional stability was encouraging. The international community should reflect on how it could best support the African Union.

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) expressed deep concerned about the high number of documented incidents of human rights violations and abuses and violations of humanitarian law in the Central African Republic. Impunity for acts of violence against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, could not be tolerated. Sweden strongly supported the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and welcomed the conclusion of the second round of consultations. She hoped the African Union would continue to make advancing the initiative a priority. It should fully use its mediation capacity with active support from the United Nations and ensure implementation of the Libreville road map.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) expressed concern about the escalation of intercommunal violence aimed at civilians, MINUSCA staff and humanitarian workers. There was a need to strengthen support for the African Initiative, she said, warning that the increase of violence was undermining the peace process. She encouraged the African Union and MINUSCA to continue working in close cooperation and underscored the need for countries in the region to become actively involved in finding a solution to the crisis. There was an urgent need to protect civilians as the first targets of continued violence as well as to put an end to actions that could serve as an incitement to violence. Greater support was required to redeploy the national forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission.

ILAHIRI ALCIDE DJEDJE (CAte d’Ivoire) said the security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic remained worrying, as was the reappearance of incendiary rhetoric and attacks by armed groups against MINUSCA and humanitarian actors. He stressed the need for all stakeholders to strictly adhere to the provisions of resolution 2399 (2018) and become involved in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis, within the framework of the African Initiative. His delegation supported the request for additional assistance for MINUSCA for the redeployment of national forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission. He underscored the need for accountability in order to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

Mr. COHEN (United States) said the collective goal of the international community had to be a durable solution for peace and security in the country. The United States was committed to the President and pleased the Central African Republic Criminal Court was operational and could hold those responsible for crimes accountable. The process for carrying out the road map must be invigorated. A conference was necessary to bring the international community together to advance peace in the country and long-standing peace had to be made a priority. The United States backed the work of the civil society groups and urged MINUSCA to work with the local groups and the African Union to achieve peace. He lauded the good work of MINUSCA as it operated in a very complex situation. Peace could not be achieved without a thoughtful look at the local conditions.

ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said the unstable security situation in the Central African Republic had entered its fifth year and was deteriorating with the escalating conflicts among armed groups. He condemned the inflammatory rhetoric that incited attacks on civilians and holy places of religious worship. Kuwait condemned the attacks against the peacekeepers, which had to stop and could be considered war crimes. Kuwait supported the efforts of the President. The humanitarian situation in Central African Republic was dire and more than 50 per cent of the people needed aid and half of them were children.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDA�N (Bolivia) said the violence and insecurity that was being stoked by armed groups in the Central African Republic put at risk the achievements in the country. He called upon all armed groups to submit to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and to cease hostilities and reach agreements that would benefit the civilian population. He urged the International Support Group to pursue consistent and sustained engagement with all stakeholders in the Central African Republic. The never-ending spiral of violence taking place served to further exacerbate an already delicate humanitarian situation. His delegation condemned all acts of incitement to violence that jeopardized the country’s peace and security. He welcomed the efforts of MINUSCA to identify regions where there was a need for additional capacities to protect the civilian population.

MARIUSZ LEWICKI (Poland) expressed support for the efforts of MINUSCA as well as the engagement of regional organizations aimed at advancing the peace and reconciliation process, particularly those that sought to increase the participation of women. Despite some positive developments, the security and humanitarian situation in the country had not improved. He condemned acts of violence against civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers which had resulted in numerous causalities, hindered the peace process and compromised the country’s economic recovery. It was extremely important to stop impunity and restore State control throughout the entire country. The fragile situation in the Central African Republic showed that comprehensive support from the international community was indispensable.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said his Government was chairing the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa to promote the genuine exchange of views on how to support national and regional efforts in the spirit of African solutions to African problems. At a meeting held last month, serious concerns were expressed on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic, the socioeconomic challenges and the danger of inflammatory rhetoric and sectarian violence. The illegal exploitation of minerals and other resources as a means to fund the operations of armed groups, including with the assistance of neighbouring countries, was an alarming development. Looking forward, the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation through engagement with the local community and supporting the expansion of State authority, mainly in remote areas, was very much emphasized during the meeting. What came out very clearly was that Central African Republic required greater attention from the Council to avoid a reversal of whatever little progress had been made over the last two years.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the security situation in the country was fragile with constant violent clashes. A second round of consultations had been welcomed and had been successful. China called on all involved parties and groups to implement ceasefire agreements and work toward peace and security. He commended MINUSCA for its role in maintaining peace and condemned the attacks on peacekeepers. It urged the Government to bring the perpetrators to justice. China supported the efforts of the African Union and regional and subregional groups to work towards peace. It supported efforts to support the political process. He called on the international community to support the country and provide humanitarian aid.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) expressed concern about the intensified sectarian rhetoric and intercommunal disputes leading to heightened armed conflict in the Central African Republic. Those actions worsened the already fragile security situation in the country, undermining all efforts for national reconciliation. His delegation supported the efforts of MINUSCA to resolve security issues using military and non-military methods, including comprehensive measures to prevent the participation of young people in armed violence. With the increasing number of internally displaced people and refugees in neighbouring countries, and against the backdrop of underfunding, the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic required the international community’s immediate attention.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) shared the concerns expressed in the Secretary-General’s report over the country’s deteriorating security situation and the presence of armed groups controlling significant parts of the country. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious clashes continued. The catalyst was inflammatory rhetoric and there was no place for that rhetoric to continue. He commended the courage of the peacekeepers working in the country. MINUSCA had a difficult situation considering the large size of the country and the significant presence of armed groups. It called on all parties to create the conditions for the safe and voluntary return of displaced civilians to their homes. The Russian Federation trusted that the involvement of armed groups in discussions would help stabilize the country. The road map was a good basis for launching an inclusive dialogue. The panel of facilitators had carried out two rounds of consultations to summarize the armed groups’ grievance and negotiate priorities. The Russian Federation would continue to support the training of security forces and increase its assistance in the humanitarian area, including medical assistance.

AMBROISINE KPONGO (Central African Republic) stressed that MINUSCA must be endowed with the capacity and equipment it needed to respond to and withstand to the multiple situations of tension and violence that the Mission was facing in the Central African Republic. The panel of facilitators was carrying out laudable work and the country hoped the consultations under way would result in an understanding among all parties to the conflict. She expressed support for the tireless and unceasing commitment demonstrated by all parties that stood in solidarity with the people and Government of the Central African Republic.

Source: United Nations

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Still Time to Stop Clashes among Armed Groups from Eroding State-Building Gains in Central African Republic, Top Official Tells Security Council

It was not too late to stop clashes among armed groups seeking to exploit natural resources from eroding progress towards building an effective, accountable and inclusive State in the Central African Republic, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, warning about the risk of escalating violence and increased suffering inflicted on the strife-torn nation’s population.

Several recent outbreaks of violence in Bangui and the interior demonstrated the extent to which the country still needed the full buy-in of the Council, stressed Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as he briefed the 15-member Council on recent developments.

Following those clashes in April and the beginning of May there had been signs of calm and peace, he said, although threats of attacks by radical elements had continued to stoke fears among the population. Such worrying rhetoric had been exploited by certain politicians who used the instability to fuel fear along ethnic or religious grounds.

The Central African Republic could not afford more clashes among armed groups seeking to pillage and exploit natural resources, he said, emphasizing that the restoration of State authority was key to stabilizing the situation in the short-term and the country at large in the long-term. To achieve that, the State Administration must become increasingly visible and effective in the interior.

Moreover, the persistent, dire humanitarian situation remained cause for concern, he said, noting that one in four Central Africans had been forced to abandon his or her home. More than 688,000 people remained internally displaced and another 568,000 were refugees in neighbouring countries, while attacks against staff from aid agencies made the Central African Republic the most dangerous place for relief workers in the world.

Bedializoun Moussa Nebie, Special Representative of the African Union to the Central African Republic, detailed the activities of the panel of facilitators that had visited the country in February and April for a second round of consultations and a resulting interim report in March. The panel had received detailed information from 14 armed groups, he said, drawing attention to the new commitment on the part of the President to consider the panel’s results.

Turning to funding needs, he said the panel intended to finalize its work in the coming weeks. There had been efforts to mobilize funds, yet a gap of $3 million remained. Failure is not an option. The only option is the success of the dialogue and a return to peace, he emphasized, adding that calm in the country was a necessary pre-requisite for peace.

Herminio Teodoro Maio, Force Commander of the European Union Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic, briefing via videoconference from Bangui, said his mission’s mandate included providing strategic advice and training to the Ministry of Defense and the Central African armed forces. In that connection, the mission had completed the training and validation of 3,000 soldiers, including three infantry battalions.

Nevertheless, the crisis in the Central African Republic would not be resolved through the use of military force, he said, underlining the importance of the political negotiation process leading to national reconciliation. The commitment of the countries of the region and implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process were vital.

The representative of the Central African Republic stressed that MINUSCA must be endowed with the capacity and equipment it needed to respond to and withstand the multiple situations of tension and violence that the Mission was facing. The panel of facilitators was carrying out laudable work and the country hoped the consultations under way would result in an understanding among all parties to the conflict.

Council members expressed concern about the recent clashes that had taken place in Bangui and elsewhere, detailed in the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the Central African Republic (document S/2018/611), and called for inclusive dialogue among the parties to resolve differences peacefully.

Echoing other delegates, the representative of Poland said that the recent violence against civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers had resulted in numerous causalities, hindered the peace process and compromised the country’s economic recovery.

Ethiopia’s representative said that at a recent meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, which his Government currently chaired, participants stressed that the illegal exploitation of minerals and other resources as a tool to fund the operations of armed groups, including with the help of neighbouring countries, was an alarming development. The country needed greater attention from the Council to retain whatever progress had been achieved in the past two years.

The speaker for France agreed, stressing that the Council must fully support the President and Central African authorities as they tried to restore peace in the country, with a particular focus on helping to promote justice and disarm armed groups. The message of the Council to those group should be firm � that they had to put down their weapons and engaged in peace talks, and would face consequences for any violations.

Sweden’s representative strongly supported the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and welcomed the conclusion of the second round of consultations, stressing that the African Union should continue to make advancing the Initiative a priority.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Peru, Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom, Netherlands, CAte d’Ivoire, United States, Kuwait, Bolivia, China, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation.

The meeting began at 10:07 and ended at 12:12.

Briefing

PARFAIT ONANGA-ANYANGA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), said the most recent developments in the country demonstrated the extent to which it still needed the full buy-in of the Security Council. There had been several outbreaks of violence in Bangui and the interior of the country in April and the beginning of May, although since then, there had been signs of calm and peace. Threats of attacks by radical elements had continued to stoke fears among the population, despite the relative calm, he said, stressing that such worrying rhetoric had been exploited by certain politicians that used the instability to fuel fear based on ethnic or religious grounds. Armed groups continued to exert influence in parts of the country, jeopardizing the lives of civilians. In that context, MINUSCA sought to carry out its protection of civilians’ mandate despite being overwhelmed and its staff being the targets of continued threats.

The volatile security situation and the ongoing clashes continued to have a negative impact on the ongoing political process, he said. He pointed to the strategic role played by the Peacebuilding Fund, noting that the International Support Group of the Central African Republic had met in Bangui on 11 April, which sent a strong signal to the population that the international community had not forgotten the Central African people. For the peace process to be successful, it must be inclusive and framed within the spirit of the Constitution. MINUSCA continued to work in close cooperation with local peace and reconciliation initiatives with a view to, among other aims, increasing humanitarian access and facilitating the handing over of arms. Such initiatives had helped to foster favourable conditions for a more comprehensive peace process.

He said that the restoration of State authority throughout the entire country remained essential to stabilizing the situation and setting the Central African Republic on a path to long-term stability. In that connection, it was essential that the State Administration become increasingly visible and effective in the interior of the country. He was particularly encouraged by the progressive deployment of magistrates in new areas and the opening of tribunals outside of Bangui, while the steps initiated by the Head of State to advance transitional justice were also encouraging. Justice and reconciliation must indeed progress simultaneously, he stressed, highlighting that the gradual deployments of Central African armed forces and the gendarmerie and police outside of Bangui had also contributed to increasing the State’s capacity nationwide.

The persistent, dire humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic remained cause for concern, he said, noting that one in four Central Africans had been forced to abandon his or her home. More than 688,000 people remained internally displaced and another 568,000 were refugees in neighbouring countries. Attacks against aid workers made the Central African Republic the most dangerous place for relief workers in the world. The Central African people urgently needed the assistance of international partners to fill the humanitarian funding gap, he said, underlining that only 4 per cent of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan had been funded, leaving many priority regions without assistance.

The risk of escalating violence and the unnecessary suffering inflicted on the population demanded the international community’s full attention and support, he said. The country could not afford more clashes among armed groups seeking to pillage and exploit natural resources, he said, stressing that it was not too late to stop such predatory behaviour from eroding progress towards building an effective, accountable and inclusive Central African State. Nor was it too late to prevent religion and ethnicity from becoming the driving factor of conflict. Central Africans remained desperate to see a functioning State and an end to the criminal activities of armed groups.

BA�DIALIZOUN MOUSSA NA�BIA�, Special Representative of the African Union to the Central African Republic, covered several points during his discussion. One included the activities of a panel of facilitators that had visited the country in February and April for a second round of consultations and a resulting interim report in March. The panel had received detailed information from 14 armed groups. There was calm in some areas and there was a new commitment on the part of the President to consider its results.

He referred to the unfortunate incidents in April that led to fatalities. On 15 May to 1 June, there was an intensive dialogue with groups inland and in Bangui to convince them to not escalate the situation. Calm in the country was necessary as the best possible way to provide peace. There had been a return to calm since the middle of May. Turning to the preparation for a dialogue, he said such preparations included the armed groups, the President and civil society. The aim was to show the armed groups that calm was the best way to resolve the conflict. The panel, which was preparing people’s minds for a calm and tolerant dialogue, was on the right path for preparation of the dialogue.

Turning to funding needs, he said the panel intended to finalize its work in the coming weeks. There had been efforts to mobilize funds, yet a gap of $3 million remained. He thanked the United States, which had recently paid $500,000 for the budget of the panel, the European Union and others. Failure is not an option. The only option is the success of the dialogue and a return to peace, he said. The international actors on the ground had to be supported to promote a return to peace in the country. He hoped that Council members would support the panel’s work.

HERMA�NIO TEODORO MAIO, Force Commander of the European Union Military Training Mission in the Central African Republic, briefing via videoconference from Bangui, said the mission mandate included providing strategic advice and training to the Ministry of Defense and the Central African armed forces. The European Union Military Training Mission had completed the training and validation of 3,000 soldiers, including three infantry battalions. He underscored the need for close coordination with MINUSCA on all defense issues. All actors agreed on the need to restore State authority as a key factor in resolving the crisis in Central African Republic, so the progressive redeployment of armed and internal security forces was an essential element for enabling the return of public services to the entire territory as well as to deter armed groups.

Armed forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission had already deployed with the support of MINUSCA, despite considerable logistical and technical challenges, he said. MINUSCA remained a critical partner through its support for joint deployments of military operations, he said, although it was important to bear in mind that the immediate deployment of national armed forces faced a wide range of challenges. In that context, immediate deployments must be considered as a transition phase, with the garrison deployments serving as the ideal long-term model. The crisis in the Central African Republic would not be resolved through the use of military force, he said, underlining the importance of the political negotiation process leading to national reconciliation. The commitment of the countries of the region and implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process were absolutely essential if peace was to be achieved in the country.

Statements

FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France) expressed concern about the violence against civilians, humanitarian groups and troops of MINUSCA. It was essential that the Council express its full support to the President and Central African authorities as they were trying to restore peace in the country. It was important to help the authorities promote justice and the disarmament of armed groups and efforts towards peace in the country. Progress had been made. The violence by armed groups was accompanied by violations of human rights. It was imperative for all armed groups to stop those violations. The message of the Council should be firm to the armed groups: that they had to put down their weapons and engaged in peace talks, and would face ramifications for their violations. He reminded the Council that they had tools to use against the armed groups. It was urgent to achieve the reach road map. An inclusive dialogue that involved all parties, including women, was necessary. It was necessary to support all activities to ensure the success of the road map.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru) said that his delegation was disturbed to see that efforts to restore State authority had not yet taken hold in the Central African Republic, expressing regret that most of the country lived under the shadow of a permanent state of conflict. He underlined the vital work of MINUSCA and stressed the need to provide the Mission with the necessary support. It was important to work towards job creation, particularly for young people, to help them avoid falling into the hands of dangerous armed groups. There was a pressing need to generate synergies between the United Nations and the relevant regional organizations and neighbouring countries. Peru underscored the challenging role to be played by MINUSCA in a very complex and hostile environment, and stressed the need to guarantee the security of Blue Helmets on the ground.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) expressed concern about the resurgence of violence in the Central African Republic and the fact that armed groups were controlling large swaths of the country. The constant and deliberate attacks aimed at preventing MINUSCA from fulfilling its mandate were utterly unacceptable and must be condemned, as they constituted war crimes. He underscored that national ownership must include the active participation of all political stakeholders and all members of society. It was essential to steer the peace process forward and ensure that it took into account the socioeconomic needs of all segments of society. He welcomed the training provided to units of the Central African Republic armed forces, which had allowed them to support MINUSCA, further contributing to the strengthening of national authority. He drew attention to the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation, which had triggered further flight to neighbouring countries.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) expressed great concern about the deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic where one-quarter of the population had been forced to flee their homes. The United Kingdom had given $9 million for humanitarian needs in 2018. He called on all armed groups to cease all violence and urged all groups and individuals to cease the incitement of violence on ethnic and religious grounds. Individuals in positions of leadership had a particular responsibility to stop those acts of incitement. The Council had to send a clear message that there would be consequences as progress was made in the creation of a justice system and legal system. A well-trained peacekeeping force would help to build support and create an environment for peace. An inclusive political peace process would be the best route to achieve peace in the country. The African Union’s support for regional stability was encouraging. The international community should reflect on how it could best support the African Union.

IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) expressed deep concerned about the high number of documented incidents of human rights violations and abuses and violations of humanitarian law in the Central African Republic. Impunity for acts of violence against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, could not be tolerated. Sweden strongly supported the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and welcomed the conclusion of the second round of consultations. She hoped the African Union would continue to make advancing the initiative a priority. It should fully use its mediation capacity with active support from the United Nations and ensure implementation of the Libreville road map.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands) expressed concern about the escalation of intercommunal violence aimed at civilians, MINUSCA staff and humanitarian workers. There was a need to strengthen support for the African Initiative, she said, warning that the increase of violence was undermining the peace process. She encouraged the African Union and MINUSCA to continue working in close cooperation and underscored the need for countries in the region to become actively involved in finding a solution to the crisis. There was an urgent need to protect civilians as the first targets of continued violence as well as to put an end to actions that could serve as an incitement to violence. Greater support was required to redeploy the national forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission.

ILAHIRI ALCIDE DJEDJE (CAte d’Ivoire) said the security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic remained worrying, as was the reappearance of incendiary rhetoric and attacks by armed groups against MINUSCA and humanitarian actors. He stressed the need for all stakeholders to strictly adhere to the provisions of resolution 2399 (2018) and become involved in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis, within the framework of the African Initiative. His delegation supported the request for additional assistance for MINUSCA for the redeployment of national forces trained by the European Union Military Training Mission. He underscored the need for accountability in order to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

Mr. COHEN (United States) said the collective goal of the international community had to be a durable solution for peace and security in the country. The United States was committed to the President and pleased the Central African Republic Criminal Court was operational and could hold those responsible for crimes accountable. The process for carrying out the road map must be invigorated. A conference was necessary to bring the international community together to advance peace in the country and long-standing peace had to be made a priority. The United States backed the work of the civil society groups and urged MINUSCA to work with the local groups and the African Union to achieve peace. He lauded the good work of MINUSCA as it operated in a very complex situation. Peace could not be achieved without a thoughtful look at the local conditions.

ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said the unstable security situation in the Central African Republic had entered its fifth year and was deteriorating with the escalating conflicts among armed groups. He condemned the inflammatory rhetoric that incited attacks on civilians and holy places of religious worship. Kuwait condemned the attacks against the peacekeepers, which had to stop and could be considered war crimes. Kuwait supported the efforts of the President. The humanitarian situation in Central African Republic was dire and more than 50 per cent of the people needed aid and half of them were children.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDA�N (Bolivia) said the violence and insecurity that was being stoked by armed groups in the Central African Republic put at risk the achievements in the country. He called upon all armed groups to submit to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and to cease hostilities and reach agreements that would benefit the civilian population. He urged the International Support Group to pursue consistent and sustained engagement with all stakeholders in the Central African Republic. The never-ending spiral of violence taking place served to further exacerbate an already delicate humanitarian situation. His delegation condemned all acts of incitement to violence that jeopardized the country’s peace and security. He welcomed the efforts of MINUSCA to identify regions where there was a need for additional capacities to protect the civilian population.

MARIUSZ LEWICKI (Poland) expressed support for the efforts of MINUSCA as well as the engagement of regional organizations aimed at advancing the peace and reconciliation process, particularly those that sought to increase the participation of women. Despite some positive developments, the security and humanitarian situation in the country had not improved. He condemned acts of violence against civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers which had resulted in numerous causalities, hindered the peace process and compromised the country’s economic recovery. It was extremely important to stop impunity and restore State control throughout the entire country. The fragile situation in the Central African Republic showed that comprehensive support from the international community was indispensable.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said his Government was chairing the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa to promote the genuine exchange of views on how to support national and regional efforts in the spirit of African solutions to African problems. At a meeting held last month, serious concerns were expressed on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic, the socioeconomic challenges and the danger of inflammatory rhetoric and sectarian violence. The illegal exploitation of minerals and other resources as a means to fund the operations of armed groups, including with the assistance of neighbouring countries, was an alarming development. Looking forward, the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation through engagement with the local community and supporting the expansion of State authority, mainly in remote areas, was very much emphasized during the meeting. What came out very clearly was that Central African Republic required greater attention from the Council to avoid a reversal of whatever little progress had been made over the last two years.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the security situation in the country was fragile with constant violent clashes. A second round of consultations had been welcomed and had been successful. China called on all involved parties and groups to implement ceasefire agreements and work toward peace and security. He commended MINUSCA for its role in maintaining peace and condemned the attacks on peacekeepers. It urged the Government to bring the perpetrators to justice. China supported the efforts of the African Union and regional and subregional groups to work towards peace. It supported efforts to support the political process. He called on the international community to support the country and provide humanitarian aid.

KANAT TUMYSH (Kazakhstan) expressed concern about the intensified sectarian rhetoric and intercommunal disputes leading to heightened armed conflict in the Central African Republic. Those actions worsened the already fragile security situation in the country, undermining all efforts for national reconciliation. His delegation supported the efforts of MINUSCA to resolve security issues using military and non-military methods, including comprehensive measures to prevent the participation of young people in armed violence. With the increasing number of internally displaced people and refugees in neighbouring countries, and against the backdrop of underfunding, the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic required the international community’s immediate attention.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) shared the concerns expressed in the Secretary-General’s report over the country’s deteriorating security situation and the presence of armed groups controlling significant parts of the country. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious clashes continued. The catalyst was inflammatory rhetoric and there was no place for that rhetoric to continue. He commended the courage of the peacekeepers working in the country. MINUSCA had a difficult situation considering the large size of the country and the significant presence of armed groups. It called on all parties to create the conditions for the safe and voluntary return of displaced civilians to their homes. The Russian Federation trusted that the involvement of armed groups in discussions would help stabilize the country. The road map was a good basis for launching an inclusive dialogue. The panel of facilitators had carried out two rounds of consultations to summarize the armed groups’ grievance and negotiate priorities. The Russian Federation would continue to support the training of security forces and increase its assistance in the humanitarian area, including medical assistance.

AMBROISINE KPONGO (Central African Republic) stressed that MINUSCA must be endowed with the capacity and equipment it needed to respond to and withstand to the multiple situations of tension and violence that the Mission was facing in the Central African Republic. The panel of facilitators was carrying out laudable work and the country hoped the consultations under way would result in an understanding among all parties to the conflict. She expressed support for the tireless and unceasing commitment demonstrated by all parties that stood in solidarity with the people and Government of the Central African Republic.

Source: United Nations

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