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Ban calls for UN force in C. African Republic

March 3, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday recommended the establishment of a nearly 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in conflict-wracked Central African Republic to help protect civilians and address the root causes of sectarian killings.

The U.N. chief said in a report to the Security Council that despite “the progressive effectiveness” of the nearly 6,000 African Union troops and 1,600 French forces currently in the country, their numbers are insufficient and they lack civilian experts.

He recommended that the international force be replaced by a U.N. mission with 10,000 troops that would include the African soldiers now in the country, along with 1,820 police personnel, and a large civilian staff.

It normally takes at least five or six months to get a U.N. force on the ground.

With this in mind, Ban called late last month for the rapid deployment of at least 3,000 additional troops and police to bolster the African and French forces and help prevent further sectarian killings that have forced almost one million people to flee their homes.

The country has been in chaos since a March 2013 coup, and the violence has been splitting the country into Muslim and Christian areas.

The secretary-general said an important factor in his decision to recommend deployment of a U.N. force now is the organization’s ability to deploy a peacekeeping operation “with the full range of capacities that are required to address the deep-rooted nature of the complex crisis now unfolding in the Central African Republic.”

In the early stages, he said, the force will need to focus on the “utmost priority” of protecting civilians under threat and provide “some immediate dividends” in the areas of security, human rights and justice.

“In the long term, in order for the United Nations to make a lasting difference in the Central African Republic, it will need to support national efforts to break the cycle of recurring political and security crises,” Ban said.

But the secretary-general also warned that many problems facing the Central African Republic “exceed the capacities” of a U.N. peacekeeping operation. He pointed to the complexities of the current crisis, the “almost non-existent capacity” of the government and the absence of security.

“Deploying a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic should therefore be part of a broader, long-term engagement of the international community,” he said.

Ban said a U.N. deployment must go “hand in hand with a commitment of the international financial institutions to support the rebuilding of the state, which would include support to rebuilding the financial and banking sectors” and immediate payment of civil servants’ salaries.

He said the transitional government and other key players in Central African Republic must also make a commitment to embark on “an inclusive political process” that will create a new army, rebuild the police and gendarmerie, disarm and reintegrate combatants, promote reconciliation and conduct “inclusive, fair and transparent elections.”

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