Monday

25th Jul 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.

MEPs fear further 'Putinisation' of Turkey

MEPs criticised the harsh crackdown in Turkey after last week's failed coup, and warned that Ankara must not go down the road towards an authoritarian regime, in an extraordinary meeting of the EP's foreign affairs committee.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event Agenda 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels