EU to Boost Support for Violence-Torn Central African Republic

Written by | Friday, December 13th, 2013

The European Union has pledged to immediately step up its support for the Central African Republic following a decision by the United Nations to send peacekeepers to the country. The escalating violence in the country has led a UN rapporteur to speak of “genocidal dy-namics”, as the arriving foreign Islamist forces were contributing to an increasingly religious dimension. 80% of the Central African Republic’s population totaling 4.6 million is Christian or animist. But the UK has vetoed a proposal that the EU’s rapid-reaction force should bolster security during the months necessary for the UN to muster a force.
The European Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, announced earlier that the EU would provide €50 million for salaries of African troops to be deployed to the country on 19 December. The Commission that has so far provided €20m in emergency funding, while its humanitarian department, ECHO, has flown in emergency support every day. Individual EU member states are also increasing their support. The UK has provided transport capacity to back up the French military presence in the country, which has now soared from the 400 soldiers it has traditionally maintained in its former colony to around 1,200, with its reach extending to providing security for a critical road to Cameroon. On Tuesday (10 December), France said that two of its paratroopers had been killed in the military operation.
The small regional military mission that has been in the country since 2008 – some 700 sol-diers from neighboring countries, and partly funded by the EU – has been overwhelmed since fighting began in December 2013. A larger pan-African mission will take over on 19 December, with troop levels possibly rising to 3,500. The separate UN peacekeeping force could contribute a further 4,800 soldiers.
The EU could consider using – for the first time ever – its standing force, a ‘battle-group’, made up of 1,500-2,000 soldiers from a rotating roster of three countries. However, the UK, which commands the current ‘battle-group’ insists that this issue be discussed by member states in the EU’s political and security committee. The situation in the Central African Re-public was seen by EU policymakers, in the words of one, as “ticking all the boxes” for an EU deployment – a compact and containable situation with a clear exit point, in the form of the arrival of UN peacekeepers.

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