The Security Council of the UN on Wednesday voted unanimously a one-year extension of its peacekeeping mission in the Central that will be reinforced with 900 troops and will be more mobile and responsive.

This strengthening of Minusca was requested by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing in the country.

According to the resolution adopted by France, the force is authorized to deploy on the ground up to 11,650 people, including 2,080 police officers and 480 military observers.

It should allow the UN to stop the “spiral of violence and recreate a positive dynamic in the Central African Republic,” said the French ambassador to the UN , François Delattre.

Washington, which seeks to reduce the costs of peacekeeping operations of the UN , had recently indicated not opposed “in principle to a modest increase in troops for minusca, but on the condition that the additional military is a real benefit” to the mission. They will have to “show the highest professional standards and abstain from any sexual abuse,” claimed the United States.

The armed interventions of France (2013-2016) and the UN have made it possible to reduce violence, particularly in Bangui. In the provinces, 2017 saw on the contrary the clashes resume in intensity between armed groups and militias fighting for control of resources in this country of 4.5 million inhabitants, one of the poorest in the world but rich in minerals.

The resolution provides for Minusca’s troops to be more mobile and responsive. We must “do everything possible to increase its effectiveness and its ability on the ground,” said Antonio Guterres during a recent visit to the country, his first with a peace operation since taking office in January.

‘Special investigation’

On Monday, the UN announced the launch of an “independent special investigation” into possible failures of peacekeepers in attacks by armed groups against civilians near UN soldiers .

This “special investigation is triggered in a context of recent deterioration of the security situation in the south-east of the country, with the objective of improving the Mission’s ability to prevent violence and protect civilians under immediate threat, with its means and in its areas of deployment, “said the UN

Minusca, struggling to restore order, has lost 12 soldiers since early 2017.

Accused by their detractors of “passivity” towards armed groups and sometimes even “collusion”, the UN contingents also face an avalanche of accusations of sexual assault. In June, a battalion of more than 600 soldiers from Congo-Brazzaville was sent home after accusations of sexual assault and trafficking. In 2016, 120 peacekeepers of the same nationality had already been sent back for the same reasons.

“If we are to prevent the whole country from falling back into civil war, there is an urgent need for better protection of civilians”, claimed Tuesday the NGO Norwegian Refugees Council ( NRC ).

Ultimately, the mission of the UN is to be replaced by the Central African Armed Forces ( FACA ). In late October, Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra promised that the first forces formed by the European Union would be deployed within three months – despite an arms embargo imposed by the UN since 2013.

The resolution expresses the Council’s “concern” over the “deterioration of the security situation in the south-east and north-west”.

The country has been embroiled in a conflict since the overthrow in 2013 of President François Bozizé by a pro-Muslim coalition (the former Séléka), which led to a counteroffensive of pro-Christian militias self-proclaimed “self-defense” (anti-balaka , or antimachettes).

Due to the violence, more than 600,000 people are displaced in the Central African Republic and 500,000 are refugees in neighboring countries. About 2.4 million Central Africans, or half of the population, are dependent on international aid.

AFP