UN wants 10 000 soldiers for CAR
04 March 2014, 12:53
New York – The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday recommended deploying 11 820 peacekeepers in strife-torn Central African Republic, including 10 000 soldiers and 1 820 police officers, to re-establish order.
In a report sent to the 15 members of the Security Council, Ban specified that the peacekeeping mission should focus, in the initial stage, on "the protection of civilians".
However, the mandate for the proposed operation would be progressively expanded to cover "support for the political process" of transition, in particular restoring the government's authority over the country and organising elections, safeguarding the delivery of humanitarian aid, the respect of human rights and the return of those displaced by the violence.
"It is envisaged that the strength of the peacekeeping operation would comprise up to 10 000 troops and 1 820 police personnel," and included logistical and transport support, such as helicopters, the report explained.
The deployment would be rolled out in stages.
"To deal with immediate security needs, there will be an initial surge of military personnel and corresponding military enablers," the report said.
"Police will also be phased in and, as the security environment improves, should eventually replace the bulk of the initial military surge capacity," first in the capital, Bangui, and then in the provinces.
Little by little, a large civilian component would be added, though the report does not specify exact numbers.
These civilians - administrators, engineers, rights observers and lawyers - will be charged with helping organize elections, promote national reconciliation and to rebuild a national government that hasn't been effective for months and which no longer provides essential services for the population.
But even in the best case, the UN peacekeepers couldn't be deployed for another six months - not before September or October - because of the time required to mount such an operation.
The former French colony was thrown into chaos after rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka group seized power in a March 2013 coup.
The Muslim-Christian violence that has erupted in its wake - killing thousands and displacing around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people - has prompted the United Nations to speak of fears of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
An African Union-led force, MISCA, nearly 6 000-strong, is already engaged on the ground, as are 2 000 French soldiers from the Sangaris operation.