EU to announce new support for security and elections in the Central African Republic
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, January 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, has announced that the European Commission stands ready to give new support in the range of €25 million to the African Union-led operation in the Central African Republic, (Mission Internationale de Soutien à la Centrafrique sous Conduite Africaine, MISCA), based on a request to be done by the African Union. The announcement was done ahead of a donors' conference in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to mobilise resources for MISCA.
Subject to an on-going evaluation of the current needs, the EU also stands ready to support the electoral process in the CAR with around €20 million. This new support 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 new funding will bring the EU's total commitments to the Central African Republic since the beginning of the crisis to around €200 million – a clear indication that we are mobilising all available resources, not just development aid, to help the people of the Central African Republic and improve their security, in a situation that has been getting worse for more than a year now", Commissioner Piebalgs said.
He added: "The MISCA support mission is a cornerstone for stabilising the country; protecting the local population and creating the conditions needed for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reform of the security sector."
High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton said: “Together with our partners, the European Union will remain actively engaged in supporting the stabilization of the Central African Republic. We will do all we can to help the new authorities to implement the transition agreement.”
This new funding for MISCA, which is subject to usual decision-making processes, will allow the extension of the already-announced €50 million of EU support. It covers the costs of allowances, accommodation and food for troops deployed in the field, as well as the salaries of civilian MISCA personnel and various operational costs such as transport, communication or medical services. The EU also calls on other potential donors to follow and respond to the call of the African Union. Although it has slowed down considerably due to the security and institutional situation, the 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, while implementation is underway for a €10 million stabilisation package under the EU's Instrument for Stability. The immediate priority, once security is restored, will be to support the process of transition towards the restoration of democratic institutions and the provision of basic social services to the population.
In addition, given the immediate humanitarian needs, Commissioner Piebalgs recently announced the mobilisation of an additional €10 million from the European Development Fund for humanitarian assistance to the CAR. The EU is the largest provider of relief assistance to the country, providing €76 million in 2013.
The security situation in the CAR, particularly in Bangui, has been temporarily stabilised thanks to the French military operation Sangaris and the deployment since 19 December of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, MISCA. Nonetheless, the situation remains extremely concerning, volatile and fragile.
The Council of the European Union, convinced of the importance of supporting African efforts and stepping up EU involvement in the CAR as part of its overall approach, agreed last week (20 January) on a future EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) military operation. The operation will provide temporary support, for a period of up to six months, to help to achieve a secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to the AU.
The Central African Republic ranks among the world's poorest countries and has been embroiled in a decade-long armed conflict. The surge of violence in December 2013 exacerbated this situation and today half of the 4.6-million-strong population is in need of immediate aid.
Almost a million people have been internally displaced, half of them in the capital Bangui alone. More than 245,000 Central Africans have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.
Commissioner Piebalgs made today's announcements following his participation in the 22nd African Union summit in Ethiopia, from 30-31st January. The summit presented a key opportunity for the EU and the African Union to meet ahead of the 4th Africa-EU Summit, which will take place in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014.
The Brussels summit will be held under the theme "Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace". It is expected to mark a further significant step forward for the partnership between the EU and Africa in these three areas.