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Brussels, 17 January 2014
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 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 and other armed groups against Muslims in Bangui. This, and the acts of retaliation that followed, left more than 1,000 people dead and led to a sudden and considerable increase of internal displacement.
The current crisis is affecting the majority of the population (4.6 million, half of them children). Almost 60% of the Central Africans are in dire need of aid. As of 15 January, there were about 886,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in CAR. More than 86,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighbouring countries in the last year. 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 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), 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 Head of State of the transition and the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic on 10 January 2014, the legislative body (National Transition Council) has to elect a new transitional President within 15 days and on the basis of broad consultations, as stipulated in the Constitutional Charter. This process is being facilitated by the ECCAS mediator, the President of the Republic of Congo.
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. An essential medium- to long-term objective is the rebuilding of state institutions.
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. 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. In this respect, the Political and Security Committee confirmed on 15 January the appropriateness of the preparation for a possible EU military operation, and invited the EEAS to develop a Crisis Management Concept in view of a decision on 20 January at the Foreign Affairs Council.
European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva has called, jointly with the UN Under-Secretary General and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, a ministerial meeting on CAR’s humanitarian situation in Brussels on 20 January. She has visited the country twice in 2013 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 European Union is currently the largest humanitarian donor to the victims of the crisis in the Central African Republic. In 2013, the European Commission and 14 EU Member States provided over €76 million (compared to €20 million in 2012) in humanitarian assistance to CAR. The Commission's initial humanitarian envelope of €8 million for 2013 was gradually increased to €39 million. 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. EU humanitarian aid also contributes to enhance the capacity for emergency humanitarian response of UN agencies and NGOs.
In 2014, the European Commission will maintain a substantial envelope to finance humanitarian activities in the country. The allocation may be revised upwards based on the situation on the ground.
Due to difficult access to people in need of relief 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 at the onset of the current emergency. In addition, the European Commission has funded a plane carrying relief supplies from Europe to CAR and a flight from Nairobi bringing emergency shelter for around 100 000 displaced people.
A team of EU 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, other donors and those relief organizations that are best placed to deliver assistance in CAR.
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 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). 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 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.
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