EU military mission for Central Africa not ready
PARIS (AP) — The European Union peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic can’t start next week as scheduled because some countries haven’t provided the troops and resources they promised, France’s government said Friday.
A diplomat close to the discussions says some EU member states are reconsidering their contribution because of the cost — and because they want to focus resources on potential fallout from tensions over Ukraine instead. The diplomat wasn’t authorized to be publicly named discussing the sensitive matter.
The 28-nation EU decided on Feb. 10 to back a French military operation aimed at stopping sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in Central African Republic. But that faraway conflict is less of a priority for Europe now.
In an unusually angry statement, the French Foreign and Defense ministries said Friday that other European countries haven’t come through with promised contributions and if they don’t do so “very quickly,” the force won’t be ready.
The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, sent a letter to member governments this week urging them to kick in. In the letter, obtained by The Associated Press, she says their failure to pitch in as promised puts the larger U.N. operation for Central Africa — and the EU’s global credibility — at risk.
The arrival of the EU contingent of an expected 1,000 troops plus medical and support teams would allow the French to conduct wider military operations outside the capital Bangui to help stabilize the country.
There are now 2,000 French troops in the former French colony and 6,000 African troops.
French troops went in after a Muslim rebel government tortured and killed Christian civilians and unleashed anger that erupted into inter-communal clashes. Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled the country, and Christians have desecrated mosques and burned homes to keep the Muslims from returning.