Saturday

10th Dec 2016

EU countries to send soldiers to Bangui

  • African Union soldier in Bangui airport, where up to 120,000 people are taking shelter (Photo: US Army Africa)

EU countries have agreed to send a joint force to protect refugees at Bangui airport in the Central African Republican (CAR).

They said in Brussels on Monday (20 January) that they reached "political agreement” to go ahead, but require a mandate from the UN Security Council (UNSC) before sending troops.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

They noted the “Eufor” mission is to last six months and that an EU operations centre in Larissa, Greece, will do detailed planning in line with Greece's current EU chairmanship.

EU diplomats have indicated the force will comprise some 500 men and is to deploy “at the end of February.”

It is unclear at this stage who is to contribute troops, but Germany and Ireland have indicated they have other commitments, while Estonia has indicated it will send soldiers.

Bangui airport is currently home to up to 120,000 refugees, who are fleeing a sectarian conflict which began in 2012.

The EU ministers’ conclusions spoke of “extra-judical executions, mutilations, forced disappearances, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and recruitment and use of child soldiers” as aspects of the war.

Meanwhile, EU aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva the same day in the EU capital chaired a CAR donors’ conference with representatives from some 40 countries and 20 NGOs.

She said pledges amounted to $497 million to cover emegrency aid and state-building for this year. The EU institutions pledged $61 million, France offered $47 million and the US $45 million.

“This has been for far too long a forgotten crisis - forgotten no more,” she said.

France’s junior minister in charge of development, Pascal Canfin, noted that aside from the risk of genocide, CAR is at risk of “famine” if the war stops farmers from planting crops before the rainy season begins in April.

France, the former colonial power in CAR, already has around 1,600 soldiers on the ground under a UNSC resolution.

Some left-wing EU politicians have accused both Paris and Brussels of taking a special interest in CAR due to its uranium deposits.

But French foreign minister Laurent Fabius on Monday said only that he is "very satisfied" with the EU reaction, which was made on France's request.

For his part, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt noted the use of the Eufor model in CAR could spell the end of the EU’s “battlegroups.”

Eufor, or European Union Force, is the generic name for EU states’ joint rapid reaction forces, which are created on an ad hoc basis as situations arise.

They have been used several times: in the Western Balkans, in Africa and in the Indian Ocean.

Battlegroups are also EU rapid reaction forces. They are composed of soldiers from small coalitions of EU states, who train together and who are supposed to be on standby if a crisis breaks out. They came into life in 2007 in what some described as the nucleus of a future “EU army,” but they have never been used.

“They are designed precisely for this [CAR] kind of mission. So, if not now, then when?” Bildt said.

“They are supposed to be ready. If they are not … the battlegroup concept as such will be open to debate,” he added.

Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, noted that Bildt was the only one out of the 28 ministers who mentioned battlegroups in Monday's talks.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First