Central African Republic remains "very volatile," warns UN peacekeeping chief
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- UN Undersecretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on Wednesday told the Security Council that despite a successful presidential election and other noteworthy progress, the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be plagued by violence and volatility.
"The situation remains very volatile," said the UN peacekeeping chief while speaking about the security situation in the landlocked country in Central Africa.
Lacroix praised the peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSCA, in providing security to thousands of internally displaced, helping to safeguard democratic order and protecting civilians "in the face of persisting attempts by the armed group coalition to asphyxiate the country."
At the same time, insecurity has blocked the passage of more than 1,000 trucks carrying lifesaving supplies, food and medical necessities, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ongoing violence has also resulted in "significant renewed displacement and increased humanitarian needs and pushed civilians to again seek refuge in neighboring countries," said Lacroix.
The country "is now the most dangerous place for humanitarian work," he added, noting that it accounted for over 46 percent of worldwide incidents registered by international non-governmental organizations last month.
And yet, in "a major achievement," the country is on track to successfully conclude a democratic transfer of power within the constitutional timeline, according to the UN official.
Two years since its signing, the Political Agreement remains "the only viable framework for peace," said Lacroix.
"It is now essential that these democratic gains are preserved by completing the electoral process and advancing a peaceful resolution to the crisis," he asserted.
To start "healing the national trauma," the UN peacekeeping chief advocated for "inclusive and meaningful dialogue ... without delay" and for the international community to support national efforts by "promoting cooperation and coherence in the peace process."
Lacroix told the Council that as "the main guarantor of security for the civilian population," MINUSCA is addressing the volatile situation and responding to increased protection needs.
However, warning that the mission is being overstretched, he recommended the addition of 2,750 military and 940 police personnel to "strengthen MINUSCA's ability to implement its priority mandated tasks ... namely, to protect civilians, create the conditions for progress in the political process, and to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance."
Against the backdrop of seven peacekeepers killed in hostile attacks during electoral violence and two others in the line of duty during the same period, Lacroix upheld that an augmentation would also contribute to safeguarding UN staff.
A reinforcement would "address increased needs, as well as the existing capacity of MINUSCA," he said, pointing to ongoing efforts to optimize the peacekeeping mission's performance.
The UN peacekeeping chief underscored the importance of reviewing and adjusting security needs with a view to re-establishing operational readiness for national defense and internal security forces.
"The Central African people have suffered so much and deserve our steadfast support and attention," he said, while also recognizing the "bravery and sacrifice" of MINUSCA personnel in this "exceptionally challenging context."
MINUSCA was started on April 10, 2014 to protect the CAR civilians under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The country has been in civil war since 2012, which is being fought along religious and ethnic lines. The country's government, which controls only a fifth of the country's territory, wants MINUSCA to take up more security responsibilities.