Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CAR: The killing continues while the West whistles.

The UN News Centre reports

UN agencies alarmed as humanitarian situation in Central African Republic deteriorates

                      Refugees from Central African Republic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: UNHCR/B.Sokol

9 December 2013 – The United Nations says that aid agencies in the Central African Republic (CAR) remain preoccupied by the alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation, particularly in the capital, Bangui, and in Bossangoa.

This situation was not only predictable but widely predicted, the French have on several occasions said that they were going to intervene but really it is now a case of too little and too late. 
Yesterday evening, French President François Hollande announced an “immediate” military intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR), a former French colony, after holding a Defense Council meeting with government ministers and the army chief of staff.
Hollande declared that French troop levels in CAR will be doubled “in a few days, if not a few hours.” The announcement came after yesterday’s adoption by the the UN Security Council of a French-sponsored resolution authorizing the deployment of more French and African troops in CAR.
The UN resolution authorises the deployment of an African Union-led force, the International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA). The resolution also authorises French forces “to take all necessary measures” to support the MISCA."

" UN agencies alarmed.." is the headline of this article, clearly the only UN operation that could actually do something was not alarmed and stuffed about as usual and did bugger all. It really is time for the UN Security Council to be overhauled, it is an outdated well past its used by date anachronism from the cold war.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 400 people have been killed and hundreds more injured since 5 December, in armed clashes between factions.

Three weeks ago I blogged on this subject saying that the UN need to act immediately going even further with the title quoted from Marillion  " Decriminalise genocide, provided door to door Belsens ". All that happened was a conference in France and a few extra French troops sent in to protect French property and interests. The decision to send an inadequate number of French was on the 5th December. The day that the killings in the CAR seem to have got underway in an organised fashion. 
“The death toll is rising, the majority of the population have no access to health facilities because of the insecurity and the bodies are still collected daily in the affected zone,” OCHA said in a news release issued yesterday.

It would be interesting to know how much value the west has nicked from the region from the colonial era until now. It will be a huge figure and one might think that providing the people of the region with a measure of security given the west's total failure there to date, would be not too big an ask.  

The country has been experiencing upheaval since last December when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks, culminating in March when President François Bozizé was forced to flee.

Most of the problem's are a result of the failure of the Seleka rebels to disband, having overthrown the admittedly corrupt Bozize regime they appear to have developed a liking for the rebel lifestyle and have now directed their efforts against the civilian ( and it would seem largely christian majority ) population.

A transitional government, headed by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, has been entrusted with restoring law and order and paving the way for democratic elections. However, armed clashes in the north-east have increased since August, and the country is facing a dire humanitarian situation in which half of its population of 4.6 million are in need of immediate assistance.

Lesley Warner blogging at Lesley on Africa gives an excellent assessment of the failure of the international community. It was fairly unrealistic to expect the Djotodia regime to bring about stability and the international community has had the best part of a year to get ready for this and failed to do anything I think we can expect the wheels to come off big time fairly soon.
Human Rights Watch on the Seleka regime;
" The Seleka should immediately end its killings and pillage, restore order, and allow access to desperately needed humanitarian assistance, Human Rights Watch said. The Seleka leadership should control its forces, denounce killings by its members and supporters, restore civilian administration throughout the country, and ensure accountability for the crimes committed."

It is hard to see this regime surviving much longer.

“The population has suffered enough,” said the acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator in CAR, Rokhaya Daba Fall. She called on all parties committing acts of violence to respect the protection of civilians and to ensure their security as well as the safety of humanitarian organizations operating to alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the crisis.
Unlimited and unhindered access should be guaranteed to allow organizations to deliver assistance where needed in a neutral and impartial manner, she stressed.
OCHA said that UN agencies and humanitarian partners in CAR have intensified operations to provide shelter, drinking water, sanitation, food security and health to internally displaced people and they are reinforcing civil-military coordination and supporting reconciliation efforts.

It is a shame the Security Council can't pull its finger out, again from Lesley Warner. 

Finally, the UN Security Council is also considering authorizing a peacekeeping mission for CAR, but it would not be able to deploy for at least two to three months – even with a speedy UNSC Resolution. Therefore, the French and AU forces would have to act as a stopgap measure until the UN would be able to put boots on the ground."

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today voiced her concern over the unfolding events in CAR, particularly reports of serious ongoing crimes.
“The deteriorating security situation over the past several days has contributed to the escalation of unlawful killings, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and other grave crimes, across the country,” Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
She underscored that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide fall under the subject matter jurisdiction of the ICC, which is based in The Hague. “I hereby call upon all parties involved in the conflict, including former Séléka elements and other militia groups, such as the anti-Balaka, to stop attacking civilians and committing crimes, or risk being investigated and prosecuted by my Office. The victims of such crimes cannot be left unheard.”

I am not holding my breath.

Ms. Bensouda welcomed the international community’s efforts to stabilise the security situation in the country and end the violence, noting in particular the arrival of the African-led and French-backed peacekeepers which the Security Council authorized last week to quell the violence.
She also welcomed the planned international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and rights abuses in CAR by all parties since 1 January 2013, saying that the initiative will “galvanise collective efforts to bring perpetrators of serious crimes to justice.”

I would settle for some well armed peacekeepers with a mandate to protect the civilian population and the ability to use lethal force to achieve that end. 

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