The UN Security Council has approved the establishment of a just on 12 000 strong peacekeeping operation for the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR).
The new mission will take over responsibilities from the African led International Support Mission (MISCA). It is expected to be operational from mid-September and will comprise up to 10 000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1 800 police personnel including 1 400 formed police unit personnel, 400 police officers and 20 corrections officers.
The Security Council also extended the mandate of the UN Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) to April 30 next year. A further indication of the world body’s commitment to bringing law and order back to the troubled country is its incorporation, with immediate effect, of BINUCA (UN Integrated Peacebuilding office in CAR) into MINUSCA.
While no exact mandate has yet been spelled out for the still to be constituted force, the Security Council said it would protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian operations in the CAR. Indications are the force would have similar rules of engagement to the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) operating in the eastern DRC. The brigade, which includes SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel and equipment including the Rooivalk combat support helicopter, has been instrumental in driving M23 out of DRC.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he saw the new mission leading to “the immediate, concrete and sustainable support people in CAR need and deserve”.
Earlier this month the European Union committed itself to a 1 000 strong force for the CAR. Code named EUFOR RCA it will provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in and around the capital Bangui. It is expected to withdraw and hand over to the just created UN force comes September.
Currently soldiers in the African led MISCA mission and French forces, known as Sangaris, are the only peacekeeping deployments in CAR which has seen ever escalating violence and fighting since December.