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Brussels, 17 March 2014
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.
The EU has been concerned about the continuously deteriorating security, political and humanitarian situation in CAR, especially since 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. On 5 December 2013, the worst spate of violence since the outbreak of the crisis erupted in the capital and other parts of the country, triggered by an attack by anti-Balaka militia and other armed groups against SELEKA rebels in Bangui. Since then, there has been a reversal of the conflict dynamic sparking a cycle of violence and acts of retaliation, including against civilians, which is now culminating into a countrywide ethnic and religious divide.
The current crisis is affecting the majority of the population (4.6 million, half of them children). More than 50% of the Central Africans are in dire need of aid. As of 10 March, there were more than 657, 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in CAR. The crisis has forced an estimated 188,000 people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Humanitarian access has been restricted by insecurity. Lack of access makes it difficult to monitor the overall humanitarian situation and deliver the urgently required assistance to those suffering the consequences of violence. The EU has taken the lead in advocacy and funding on CAR among relief donors, and has had a permanent humanitarian presence in Bangui since long before the latest events.
The situation in the CAR has a potentially 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), provide the basis for political resolution of the crisis in the Central African Republic. According to the framework developed by ECCAS, the 18-month transition process should culminate in the organization of general elections by the beginning of 2015 and the re-establishment of constitutional order. After the resignation of the self-declared President and the Prime Minister on 10 January 2014, the legislative body (National Transition Council) elected Catherine Samba-Panza as interim President on 20 January and new transitional government under the leadership of André Nzapayeke was established on 25 January. This provides a unique opportunity to move forward the political transition process and to bring all parties together to end the violence.
The restoration of security and public order remains 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. An essential medium- to long-term objective is the rebuilding of state institutions.
EU response to the crisis – a summary
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.
On 19-20 December 2013, the European Council confirmed the EU’s willingness to use relevant instruments to contribute towards the efforts under way to stabilise the country, including under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), based on a proposal by High Representative Catherine Ashton.
Following the Foreign Affairs Council's political agreement on 20 January, the Council on 10 February established the EU military operation to contribute to a secure environment in the CAR based on the UN Security Council resolution 2134 (2014). This is the legal basis for the EUFOR RCA operation and another step towards its rapid deployment.
The European Union - Commission and Member States - is the largest provider of relief assistance to the Central African Republic, with support worth more than €100 million in 2013.
The EU is strongly committed to support the new authorities in their efforts to implement the transition agreement, restore public order, work towards national reconciliation and respond to the needs of the population.
EU military operation EUFOR RCA
EUFOR RCA, which was established by the Council on 10 February 2014, is to provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to African partners. The force will thereby contribute to international efforts to protect the populations most at risk, creating the conditions for providing humanitarian aid. The operation headquarters will be in Larissa, Greece, while the force headquarters and the troops will be located in Bangui, Central African Republic. The Council also appointed Major-General Philippe Pontiès from France as EU Operation Commander. Besides, it estimated the common costs of the operation at € 25.9 million for a period of up to nine months comprising a three months preparatory phase and a mandate of up to six months starting from the point of reaching full operational capability.
Preparations for the deployment are currently under way, following accelerated procedures. The launch of operations will require a separate legal act.
EU Humanitarian Aid
The European Union is currently the largest humanitarian donor to the victims of the crisis in the Central African Republic. For 2014, the Commission has pledged €45 million in humanitarian aid. These funds are being used to support protection, access to health care, food and nutrition assistance, drinking-water distribution, sanitation services, logistics and humanitarian coordination.
In addition, a reinforced team of EU humanitarian experts in the field is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation, assessing the needs and overseeing the use of European funds.
The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva has visited CAR twice in 2013 and co-chaired a ministerial meeting on the humanitarian crisis at the 2013 UN General Assembly with France and the UN. In late January, she organised, together with the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, a ministerial meeting on CAR’s humanitarian situation in Brussels. A total of €366 million was mobilised: €150 million for life-saving aid and €216 million for stabilisation and short to medium-term assistance.
Since the surge of the current wave of violence, the EU has organised repeated airlifts of life-saving items and aid personnel into CAR to help the victims. The European Commission deployed its humanitarian air service ECHO Flight to provide a vital line of support and ferry humanitarian workers and supplies to Bangui.
The EU 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 been 'forgotten' for many years.
EU Development Assistance
The EU has also provided development assistance over the years to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people. 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), which run from 2008-2013, and €65 million through the EU budget).
On top of this, since the immediate needs are so huge, the EU decided 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.
Although it has slowed down considerably due to the security and institutional situation, development cooperation of the European Union has never been suspended in the Central African Republic (CAR). Creating jobs through road maintenance projects, the management of public finances and the restoration of an operational policy that protects the population are among the ongoing priorities of EU cooperation with the country. To this end, projects worth €23 million are already being mobilised using funds from the 10th European Development Fund, to support the process of transition towards the restoration of democratic institutions and the provision of basic social services to the population once security is restored.
Under the EU’s Instrument for Stability the implementation of a €12 million stabilisation package is underway to address identified immediate priorities, such as contributing to put a halt to impunity through the restoration elements of police and gendarmerie in the commissariats of Bangui as well as the urgent re-establishment of rapid intervention police forces, the support for Human rights observation missions, but also with a contribution to restore independent media and support to intercommunity dialogue.
European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, visited the country on 13-14 March 2014 and announced €81 million of new support to help restore basic social services and livelihoods; particularly in the areas of education (for example, to help classes restart in schools which have been closed due to the conflict), health (to rehabilitate and reequip health centres), and food security and nutrition (to ensure agriculture continuity, for example, by providing seeds.)
These new funds come in addition to the €20 million to support for the elections already announced earlier this year, which will go towards putting in place voter registration, electoral operations (such as printing ballot papers, providing training, equipment and staff, as well as voter education) and involving civil society groups as domestic observers
This brings the overall development efforts to respond to the crisis to over €100 million only in 2014.
EU Support for the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) 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). The APF 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). On 13 December, it authorized an additional troop increase up to a total strength of 6,000 personnel. MISCA operates under a Chapter VII mandate provided by UN Security Council Resolution 21217(2013). It has been tasked 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 defence 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 took place on 19 December 2013.
On 7 February, the EU signed a financing agreement with the African Union to support MISCA during the period 1 August 2013 – 30 June 2014. This support covers the costs of allowances, accommodation and feeding the troops deployed in the field. The salaries of civilian MISCA personnel and various operational costs such as transport, communication or medical services are also supported by the Facility. This support is essential for the proper functioning of the mission. The EU is committed to pursue its support to MISCA in 2014.
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