Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


EU launches CAR military operation

02 April 2014, 06:58

Brussels - The European Union officially launched its delayed military mission to the Central African Republic on Tuesday, seeking to bolster French and African forces that have failed to end months of Christian-Muslim violence.

The 1 000-strong force, dubbed EUFOR RCA, will work to restore security to the capital Bangui during a six-month mission, with a view to handing over to a United Nations peacekeeping operation or African troops, the EU said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the operation was meant to address the "huge challenges" facing the CAR, whose crisis began a year ago when the mostly Muslim rebel group Seleka overthrew the government.

French President Francois Hollande, who has spearheaded efforts to secure international support for the mission, said on Tuesday that the security situation in the country had "deteriorated" and that Muslims were being "directly targeted".

"The situation in Central Africa has improved in some respects and deteriorated in others," he said after a meeting in Paris with the transitional CAR president, Catherine Samba Panza, on the eve of an EU mini-summit in Brussels on the situation.

Speaking alongside Samba Panza on the steps of the Elysee Palace, he highlighted "progress" by the transitional government in restoring public services and said: "It is courageous to take over control of a country that is currently in chaos and that has seen deadly clashes."

EUFOR RCA - originally due to deploy in late March - was delayed by insufficient troop and aircraft commitments from the EU's 28 member states.

It will operate in Bangui and its airport and cost an estimated $40.6m, the EU said.

But the complete deployment of the force will take several weeks, a diplomatic source said.

"It is vital that there is a return to public order as soon as possible, so that the political transition process can be put back on track," Ashton said in a statement announcing the deployment of the EU force.

Probe of Chadian killings

Highlighting the problems that have beset peacekeeping efforts so far, Samba Panza launched a probe on Tuesday into the killing in Bangui at the weekend of at least 24 people by Chadian peacekeepers.

"We have requested investigations be launched to establish exactly what happened" on Saturday, she said in Paris.

"As soon as we have those facts, we will see who was responsible for these incidents."

Chadian troops had entered Bangui to repatriate compatriots who wanted to flee the chaos in the capital and opened fire in still-unclear circumstances.

According to local officials and witnesses, they fired rockets at civilian homes during a flare-up that left at least 24 dead and around 100 wounded.

The bloodbath was the worst known incident involving foreign troops since French and African peacekeepers deployed late last year.

Chad is a major power broker in the neighbouring CAR and its peacekeepers have been accused of bypassing the African peacekeeping force MISCA chain of command and protecting ex-Seleka fighters.

The MISCA force has said that on Saturday the Chadian troops opened fire in response to a grenade attack but residents denied it.

The incident has enraged Christians and prompted hundreds of Bangui residents to flee, fearing a wave of retaliatory violence.

"It appears that Chadian soldiers fired indiscriminately at a crowd following an incident," Cecile Pouilly, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, told reporters on Tuesday, stressing that her office was "still trying to confirm the exact affiliation of these soldiers".

Won't 'stand by and watch'

The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday it was prepared to help evacuate some 19 000 Muslims at risk of attack by mostly Christian "anti-balaka" fighters.

"What we don't want is to stand by and watch people being slaughtered," the UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba told reporters in Geneva.

"The only thing keeping them from being killed right now is the presence of [international] troops."

According to UNHCR numbers, 637 000 people in total are now displaced inside the country, including 207 000 in Bangui, while 82 000 mostly Muslim Central Africans have streamed into neighbouring countries in the past three months.

Anti-balaka militias have been accused of spearheading violence against Muslim communities in recent weeks.

They were formed last year in response to a coup in March 2013 by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group.

Seleka leader Michel Djotodia was installed as president, but was forced to step down in January under pressure from the international community, prompting violent retaliation from anti-balaka forces across the chronically unstable former French colony.

The peacekeeping forces in the country - around 2 000 French and 6 000 African troops - have meanwhile struggled to prevent what the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing against the Muslim minority.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...