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FACT SHEET- Central African Republic

European Commission - MEMO/13/1162   16/12/2013

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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 16 December 2013

FACT SHEET- Central African Republic

The European Union (EU) is a key partner of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the country's main donor. Relations are bound by the Cotonou Agreement.

Even before the current crisis, CAR faced a daunting mix of governance, economic, social, and humanitarian as well as security challenges. In response, the EU has been committed in many critical areas to support longer-term socio-economic recovery, in the framework of a comprehensive state- and peacebuilding agenda, and to help build a more stable country.

The EU has been concerned about the continuously deteriorating security, political and humanitarian situation in CAR, especially throughout 2012.

The staggered implementation of previous peace agreements, combined with chronic under-development and the country’s long experience of political instability, led to the outbreak of a new conflict in December 2012. Despite the signature on 11 January 2013 in Libreville of a political agreement initiating a transition period, tensions culminated in the violent seizure of power and the unconstitutional change of government by SELEKA rebel groups in March 2013.

The current crisis is affecting the majority of the population (4.6 million, half of them children). As of 13 December, there were about 530,000 IDPs in CAR and more than 61,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Humanitarian access has been restricted by insecurity. Lack of access makes it difficult to monitor the overall humanitarian situation. The EU has taken the lead in advocacy and funding on CAR among humanitarian donors, and has had a permanent humanitarian presence in Bangui since long before the latest events.

The situation in the CAR is having a potential destabilizing impact which could spread to the region. The lack of official security forces further increases the risk of the country becoming a safe haven for criminal and armed groups from the neighbouring countries.

The country, which previously has already been characterized as an archetype of a “fragile state”, is now confronted with a total breakdown of law and order and the collapse of state institutions.

The Libreville Agreements and the N’Djamena declaration of 18 April, both brokered by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), continue to provide the basis for political resolution of the crisis in the Central African Republic. According to the framework developed by ECCAS, a transitional Charter and transitional authorities have been put in place to lead the 18-month transition period that should lead up to the organization of general elections by the beginning of 2015 and the re-establishment of constitutional order.

The restoration of security and public order remain the immediate priorities to stabilize the country in support of the political process. Improving humanitarian coverage and re-launching development assistance are directly linked to positive developments in the security situation.

EU response to the crisis

Since the outbreak of new violence late 2012, the EU has intensified its outreach to partners. It is actively engaged in international and regional efforts to stabilize the situation in the CAR and to restore a more stable government in the country. Commissioner Georgieva has visited the country twice in 2013 (most recently, on 13 October, for a joint mission with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius), and co-chaired a ministerial meeting on the humanitarian crisis in CAR at the 2013 UN General Assembly with France and the UN.

In June 2013, the EU dispatched an inter-service mission (EEAS, Commission) to the CAR to review the situation on the ground and EU’s options. As part of the recommended comprehensive set of urgent actions that could be taken by the EU to further support stabilization and the fragile political process, the European Commission adopted mid-August a €10 million stabilization program in response to the post-coup crisis under the Instrument of Stability (IfS). The program has been designed to ensure complementarity with on-going projects funded under the 10th EDF (European Development Fund). The different components of the program:

1. include an initial support package for civilian security forces, through a pilot action on restoring elements of the police and gendarmerie in the capital;

2. support the reinstatement of the capacities of independent media in order to contribute to the availability of objective and conflict sensitive information in Bangui and the provinces;

3. aim to prevent further human rights violations through the deployment of human rights observation missions, to be carried out by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);

4. focus on fostering inter-community dialogue and the de-escalation of rising tensions between Christians and Muslims.

In line with the findings of the inter-service mission, a re-adjustment exercise has been launched by EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, to better fit the existing EU development assistance to the new needs and an increase of €23 million for on-going projects has been decided. (see development section below).

The EU remains strongly committed to support the transition process in the CAR.

EU Humanitarian Aid

The priority of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office's (ECHO) in the Central African Republic is to assist the most vulnerable people in the conflict areas of the country. The initial €8 million envelope for 2013 has been increased to €39 million by 16 December, making the EU (ECHO) the country’s main donor. These funds are being used to support protection, access to health care, food and nutrition assistance interventions, drinking-water distribution, sanitation services, logistics and humanitarian coordination as well as catering for the needs of the conflict-affected. The funding also supports an enhanced capacity for emergency humanitarian response of UN agencies and NGOs. To date, 13 EU member states and the European Commission have provided almost € 70 million in 2013 (compared to € 20 million in 2012) to support humanitarian assistance projects in CAR.

Due to difficult access to people in need of humanitarian assistance in CAR, the European Commission has deployed ECHO Flight, its humanitarian air service, to establish a humanitarian air bridge with daily rotations between Bangui and Douala (Cameroon) in order to transport humanitarian goods and staff into CAR. In addition, the European Commission has funded a plane carrying relief supplies from Europe to CAR.

A team of EU (ECHO) humanitarian experts is on the ground and monitoring the situation, assessing needs, overseeing the use of EU funds, and working closely with EU Member States and other donors. The EU works with those humanitarian organizations that are best placed to deliver assistance in CAR.

The EU (ECHO) has been supporting life-saving activities in CAR since 2001 and has been leading efforts to raise the profile of a humanitarian crisis that has for many years been 'forgotten'.

EU Development Assistance

The EU has also provided over the years development assistance to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people. With the events in December 2012 and March 2013, EU development assistance has not been suspended but has been partly put on hold for security reasons. EU priorities are being adapted in the light of the situation on the ground. Priority will now be given to labour-intensive infrastructure programs in Bangui area to provide direct support to the population and to technical assistance to help restore the administration.

Between 2008 and 2013, around €225 million have been allocated for the whole country through the different financial instruments (€160 million through the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and €65 million through the EU budget).

On top of this, since the immediate needs are so huge, the EU decided today (December 16) to mobilise an extra €10 million from the European Development Fund for humanitarian support to CAR. The objective is to provide immediate support and relief to the people who are suffering from a crisis which has affected the country's entire population.

The current situation in the CAR, whether political, security, humanitarian or socio-economic, makes it impossible to conduct in the coming months a conventional programming exercise of the development activities under the 11th EDF. Thus, at short term, the framework of cooperation will be the 18-month transition period which should lead to elections early 2015. Interventions could cover support to the Electoral process,, response to the basic needs in an approach linking relief and rehabilitation efforts (LRRD),, support to public finance management, and possibly "Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration" activities for disbanding former combatants and reintegrating them in order to build a lasting peace throughout the country. Most of the funding will come from the Bridging facility that ensures the transition between the 10th and the 11th European Development Funds.

Additional measures to support civil society organizations and local authorities, democracy and human rights related activities but also to contribute to forestry governance are funded under several thematic instruments coming from the EU budget.

EU Support for the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic through the EU African Peace Facility (APF)

In the past, CAR hosted several regional peace-support operations. The MICOPAX operation, deployed since July 2008, falls under the responsibility of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). MICOPAX was expected to be phased out until the new crisis erupted at the end of 2012. It played an important stabilization role, but given its limited troop numbers, it was however unable to stop SELEKA rebels from entering the Capital, Bangui.

As a result of the new crisis, the ECCAS Heads of States decided to reconfigure MICOPAX with a higher number of troops (from 700 to 2,000 military troops) and a new mandate to restore stability, protect civilians, support the restructuration of the CAR security forces and the organization of elections.

The EU has supported MICOPAX and its predecessor (FOMUC) with an amount of €90 million through the African Peace Facility (APF – which is part of the European Development Fund or EDF) which is the main EU instrument to support African-led Peace operations the European Development Fund (EDF). Following the crisis, APF’s support was extended until July 2013.

On 18 July 2013, the African Union Peace and Security Council approved the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA or AFISM-CAR) with a total strength of 3,652 personnel building on MICOPAX in order to contribute to: (i) the protection of civilians and the restoration of security and public order; (ii) the stabilization of the country and the restoration of the authority of the central Government; (iii) the reform and restructuring of the defense and security sector; and (iv) the creation of conditions conducive for the provision of humanitarian assistance to population in need.

The transfer of authority between ECCAS/MICOPAX and the AU/MISCA will take place on 19 December 2013.

On 5 December 2013, the EU Political and Security Committee agreed on the political appropriateness of providing EUR 50 million through the African Peace Facility to MISCA. This new support to the AFISM-CAR announced by EU Commissioner for Development for Development Andris Piebalgs aims to contribute to the stabilization of the country and the protection of local populations, creating conditions conducive to the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reform of the security and defence sector.

This new support should cover the costs of allowances, accommodation and feeding the troops deployed in the field. The salaries of civilian AFISM-CAR personnel and various operational costs such as transport, communication or medical services should also be supported by the Facility. This support will be essential for the proper functioning of the mission.

For further information:

Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions 21 October

EU and Central African Republic

EU development cooperation

EU humanitarian aid


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