The UN peacekeeping mission force in Central African Republic (CAR) now boasts an additional 300 soldiers from Rwanda, labelled the “Prussians of modern Africa”.
The extra boots on the ground were authorised by a UN Security Council resolution to “enhance MINUSCA’s ability to perform priority mandated tasks in the current evolving context”, especially protecting civilians and easing humanitarian access. Just on four months ago the Security Council determined the situation in CAR continued to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region, increasing the size of the mission’s military component by 2 750 and its police component by 940.
The additional modern-day Prussians, as the east African country’s military force is styled by top South African military analyst Helmoed Heitman in the Mozambican context, touched down at Bangui M’Poko Airport earlier this week. The new additions were welcomed by MINUSCA force commander Lieutenant General Daniel Sidiki Traoré; director mission support Emmanuel Agawu as well as CAR Forces (FACA) Chief of Defence Staff Major General Mamadou Zéphirin.
Traoré said mission success required “determined, motivated troops” referring to unrest which broke out late last year when a coalition of armed groups attempted to destabilise CAR. Their blockade of the country’s main economic line – the Bangui-Garoua-Boulai corridor – had serious consequences for the economy. The new additions will be tasked with securing this main supply route as well as other tasks.
Rwanda contingent commander Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Gasana Rugomba cited his troops’ previous UN peacekeeping experience in Juba and Darfur saying: “This contingent is battle tested. We are ready to give our all for this country’s security under mission leadership.”