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Central African Republic (CAR)

The conflict in the Central African Republic: Not without a foreign trace

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The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), which escalated since mid-December 2020, has recently heated up even more. Presidential and parliamentary elections in the CAR were scheduled for December 27, 2020. The former president of the country, Francois Bozizet, who was the leader of the country from 2003 to 2013 and known for massive repressions and murder of political opponents, was not allowed to participate in the elections.

As a response, on 17 December armed opposition groups united in the Coalition of Patriots for Change (the Coalition) and began an armed uprising against the CAR authorities. Their offensive attempted to cut off the supply routes to the capital city of Bangui but failed.

These events provoked an escalation of the civil war in the CAR. The situation is aggravated by the growing evidence of possible intervention by foreign states in the conflict.

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The first evidence of military intervention by Chad started appearing at the beginning of January during the fighting around Bangui, when the CAR troops apprehended one of the rebels from the Coalition group. He turned out to be a Chadian citizen. The Chadian Government had confirmed his citizenship and even issued a press release demanding his release and repatriation.

On January 21, the CAR armed forces carried out another attack against the Coalition group. At the end of the operation, the surviving militants fled to the north of the country, leaving their personal belongings, vehicles and weapons.

During the sweep, the CAR armed forces found military insignia and ammunition of the Chadian army. A dossier with precise data and details of the operation and its consequences were passed for further investigation to the Bangui Department of Internal Affairs.

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According to preliminary results of the Internal Affairs Department`s investigation, mobile phones which were detected at the battlefield consisted of numerous photos and personal information.

One of the smart phones owners was Mahamat Bashir, who is a close contact to Mahamat Al Khatim, the leader of the Central African Patriotic Movement.

There were also photos presenting soldiers of the Chad regular army right in front of the French military base. Also, customs documents with the Chad stamps on them had been found at the site of the CAR operation. These papers revealed information about vehicles, weapons and militants which had been sent from the territory of Chad to the Central African Republic.

All these findings bear evidence of possible participation in the CAR conflict of not just Chadian mercenaries, but also Chad regular military personnel.

Thus, the “Coalition of Patriots for Change” which was initially created for political purposes, had quickly turned into an instrument of armed intervention by actors interested in conflict in the CAR. Speaking of whom, it is worth to mention not just Chadian, but French interests.

On December 31, 2020, the Prime Minister of the French Republic Jean Castex, accompanied by the Defence Minister Florence Parley, arrived in Chad.

An official aim of their visit was to “honour the memory of the soldiers and officers who died during the operation Barkhan since 2013”.

But local media reported that the French delegation met the Chadian president Idris Debi to discuss “bilateral cooperation”, including the subject of the Central African Republic.

Despite systematic reports from the CAR Army about the attacks by the Chadian mercenaries against the CAR inhabitants, the Government of Chad denies any involvement in this conflict.

It is noteworthy that at the official level and in statements by the media, Paris showed support to the president of the Central African Republic Faustin-Arсhange Touadera.

However, while analyzing events at the CAR from the historical retrospective, it is clear that Paris has played a major role in the emergence of military and political groups in the Central African Republic.

Almost all of the CAR's presidents came to power in a result of a coup-de-tat. The method is simple but effective – as soon as the CAR leader started expressing nationalist sentiments which could theoretically cause harm to the interests of France as a post-colonial power, he “voluntarily” or forcibly left his post.

Central African Republic (CAR)

Sahel and Central Africa: €210 million in EU humanitarian aid

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The EU is reaffirming its solidarity with vulnerable people in countries in the Sahel and Central Africa through a humanitarian budget of €210 million in 2021. The funding will be allocated to humanitarian projects in the following eight countries: Burkina Faso (€24.3m), Cameroon (€17.5m), the Central African Republic (€21.5m), Chad (€35.5m) Mali (€31.9m), Mauritania (€10m), Niger (€32.3m) and Nigeria (€37m).

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “Worsening instability and armed conflicts, together with the COVID-19 pandemic and natural hazards, are having a devastating impact in the Sahel and countries in Central Africa. The EU remains committed to help reduce suffering among people in need in the region. While humanitarian aid is there to bring emergency relief, longer-lasting improvements can only be brought about through the political will of national governments and good governance.”

The EU's humanitarian funding in the Sahel and Central Africa countries is targeted to:

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  • Provide life-saving assistance to the people affected by conflict and to the communities hosting people who had to flee;
  • provide protection to vulnerable people and support the respect of International Humanitarian Law and the humanitarian principles;
  • support measures to address food crises and severe acute malnutrition among children under 5;
  • enhance the immediate response in terms of basic services to most vulnerable population, especially as concerns health care for all or education for children caught up in humanitarian crises, and;
  • strengthen fragile communities' preparedness for crises, such as mass displacements of people, or recurrent food or climate-related crises.

This assistance is part of the wider EU support provided to the region, including through the ´Team Europe´ contributions to the Coronavirus Global Response, support to the vaccine distribution effort through the COVAX Facility, and other actions providing longer-term support to strengthen fragile health systems.

Background

As part of the EU's Coronavirus Global Response and its target to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, Team Europe provided €2.2 billion to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is supporting the delivery of 1.3 billion doses of vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021 and has recently decided that up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for use in humanitarian contexts.

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In addition, the European Commission is providing €100m in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.

The EU is a leading, long-standing humanitarian donor in the Sahel and Central Africa, one of the world's poorest and most fragile regions. In 2020, the EU supported humanitarian interventions in the region with more than €213m. More than 19 million people in need benefitted from EU-funded humanitarian operations initiated in 2020 in West and Central Africa, including around 6.3 million people who were provided with food security and livelihood support, more than 3 million people assisted on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, around 2.8 million people offered access to health services, and almost 1.8 million people receiving protection support.

In order to support longer-term achievements, the EU is working to build effective synergies between humanitarian, development and peace initiatives. The life of many in the Sahel and Central Africa countries continues to be disrupted by conflict, poverty, climatic changes, recurrent food crises, or a combination of all. It is estimated that there are more than 35 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the eight priority countries covered by the EU's 2021 Humanitarian Implementation Plan for West and Central Africa. The major humanitarian needs relate to shelter, emergency food aid, access to health care and clean water, treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable.

Against this backdrop, the coronavirus pandemic is posing additional challenges, both as concerns the pressure on already fragile health systems but also the effects of the containment measures on vulnerable people's access to food and livelihoods.

At the same time, humanitarian actors are facing the combined challenges of delivering humanitarian assistance in an increasingly insecure context, where access is further restricted due to the pandemic.

More information

Factsheets on EU Humanitarian Aid: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sahel

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Central African Republic (CAR)

Humanitarian Crisis in Central African Republic continues

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The humanitarian crisis in Central African Republic (CAR) doesn´t seem to end. The CAR has been under attack by armed groups for two months, ever since the armed CPC (Coalition of the Patriots of the Central African Republic) launched numerous attacks on key cities including the capital, Bangui, aimed at aborting the elections at December 27 2020. Even though the government of the Central African Republic hoped for peaceful elections, the National Army was prepared to defend the security of the country.

According to UN-expert Yao Agbetsi, the CPC routinely violate human rights and committing crimes against the civilian population of the CAR as residents have subjected to extortion, robbery, rape, and abduction. CPC fighters also regularly kidnap press-gang children into their ranks and use them as human shields.

CAR-President Faustin-Archange Touadéra issued a call for aid to neighboring countries, and to international partners. The recent bilateral partnership in the security sector with the Russian Federation was one of the achievements of the Central African government, which helped to give a boost to the national defense forces (the FACA).

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The presence of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) seems at the same time not at all satisfying for the people of CAR. Even the recent news of the possible increase in the MINUSCA numbers provoked wide discussion among the local population and security experts.

Yao Agbetsi reports: “UN personnel in the CAR (MINUSCA) showed their low efficiency in resolving the crisis in the country. More than 14,000 people of the MINUSCA contingent cost the international community about $1 billion a year and they do not contribute to the restoration of peace in the CAR”.

Agbetsi also notes that the CAR’s allies, Russia and Rwanda, have provided effective military support in the fight against the rebels. It can be beneficial for the CAR to engage Russia more actively in solving its regional security problems.

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Also Marie-Therese Keita-Bocoum, independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, shares the stance with Agbetsi. In an opinion piece for African Associated Press (AAP) Keita-Bocoum wrote:

“The government headed by President Touadera made it clear that it would be in the interests of its people to bring the war to a victorious end. All groups will be destroyed, and their leaders will be brought to justice. This resonates with the country’s population, which is confirmed by regular pro-Touadera demonstrations of thousands of residents. African countries should support the actions of the legally elected government due to the fact that the president has proved that the people’s interests are at the forefront of his mind.”

She criticizes as well the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) which in her opinion “seeks to interfere in the internal affairs of the CAR.”

Keita-Bocoum: “The ECCAS chaired by Angolan Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo is a tool for pursuing Angola’s political interests. In order to divert its population’s attention from internal problems, the government of Angola intervenes in the situation in the CAR, acting on the side of criminals and terrorists.”

The African expert empathized the role of the international allies of CAR: “Thanks to FACA, trained by Russian instructors and Rwandan allies, the advance of CPC mercenaries has been stopped and they are suffering losses.”

Timothy Longman, professor of political science and international relations at Boston University and internationally recognized expert on the Rwandan genocide, calls as well for a stop of violence in CAR.

Longman: “President Touadera made it clear that it would be in the interests of its people to bring the war to a victorious end. All groups will be destroyed, and their leaders will be brought to justice. This resonates with the country’s population, which is confirmed by regular pro-Touadera demonstrations of thousands of residents. African countries should support the actions of the legally elected government due to the fact that the president has proved that the people’s interests are at the forefront of his mind.”

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Luanda should stop putting pressure on the legitimate government of the CAR and supporting the rebels

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After the military successes of the national army of the CAR in the fight against the armed groups’ militants, the idea of a dialogue with the rebels, put forward by CEEAC and ICGLR, looks absurd. Criminals and enemies of the peace must be arrested and brought to justice. Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera does not consider the option of negotiations with the armed groups who took up arms and acted against the people of the CAR. Meanwhile, on the Angolan side, Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, the president of the Economic Community of Central African States commission, stubbornly trying to start a dialogue with the leaders of armed groups who have formed the Coalition.

Under the guise of helping to resolve the Central African crisis, Angola is promoting its interests. President João Lourenço, António Téte (the minister of external relations who went to Bangui and then to N’Djamena), and Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, the president of the Economic Community of Central African States commission, are trying to open up a channel of communication between the different actors in Bangui. What is the role of Angola in resolving the security situation in the Central African Republic?

It is worth noting that Angola is the second oil producer in Africa, after Nigeria. Despite this fact, the country is in economic decline, but the president of the country and his elite have a large personal capital of unknown origin. There is rumor that the political elite has enriched itself over the past decade by shady arms deals with various terrorist groups from neighboring countries.

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There is a strong possibility that the current Central African Government is not in a favorable mood for cooperation with Angola in the field of natural resources within the framework of CEEAC. Therefore, the benevolent and seeking help from all the former head of the CAR, Francois Bozize, could provide privileges for Angola. Otherwise, how else to explain the negotiations of the Angolan delegation with Jean-Eudes Teya, the secretary-general of Kwa na Kwa (the party of former President Francois Bozize).

One of the conditions proposed by the Coalition was the liberation of the CAR-Cameroon corridor. The fact is that the government forces already control this area and there is no need to negotiate with the militants. In addition, CAR population expresses its complete disagreement about the opening of a dialogue with the rebels. Over the past month, several rallies have been held in Bangui, where people chanted "no dialogue with the rebels": those who came out against the people of the CAR with weapons should be brought to justice.

The government, together with the support of the international community, is planning to restore State power throughout the country, and it is only a matter of time.

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