As the September date for deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission to the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) draws ever closer the need for airlift capacity has again been stressed as important to the mission’s success.
Speaking to journalists after a closed door session of the Security Council in New York, Herve Ladsous, under-secretary-general for UN Peacekeeping Operations, said work on MINUSCA (UN Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission) was going on “actively”.
He highlighted the need for airlift capacity and other logistic assistance to increase the number of blue helmets on the ground in CAR.
Approved unanimously by the 15 member Security Council in May, MINUSCA will take over responsibilities from the African-lead international support mission (MISCA). It is slated to initially comprise up to 10 000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1 800 police personnel.
“Despite all the logistical challenges we are working toward deploying additional troops. The problem is CAR is a landlocked country. Roads are limited and it’s not easy,” Ladsous said.
No details have yet been announced of MINUSCA’s rules of engagement (ROE) but expectations are that at least part of the UN force will be formed into a unit similar to the FIB (force Intervention Brigade) that has worked successfully in the Eastern DRC.
Fighting in CAR has taken on an increasingly sectarian nature following a 2012 coup and has grown more brutal with reports of ongoing human rights violations and reprisal attacks between largely Christian anti-balaka and mostly Muslim Séléka rebels that have displaced hundreds of thousands of people both inside and outside the country and left more than two million in need of humanitarian aid.
The new mission will aim to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian access in the war-torn country. Ladsous said the shift from a political office to a peacekeeping operation would enhance UN capacities on the ground, through the deployment of civilian teams, as well as military and police components.
“MINUSCA’s aim is to create safe conditions for significant improvement in the situation. It will help restore State authority and its various institutions. It will also help with a political process and national reconciliation,” he said.