Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

Troop, equipment gaps threaten EU's Central African Republic mission

Source: Reuters - Thu, 13 Mar 2014 21:23 GMT
Author: Reuters
hum-war
A Rwandan African Union (AU) peacekeeper stands guard during parliamentary elections at the national assembly in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 20, 2014. CREUTERS/Siegfried Modola
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

* EU governments fail to provide needed soldiers

* Failure to send mission would embarrass EU

* France has appealed for more European support

By Adrian Croft

BRUSSELS, March 13 (Reuters) - A European Union plan to send a military force to keep the peace in Central African Republic is in jeopardy because of the failure of European governments to provide soldiers and equipment, EU sources said on Thursday.

The EU has drawn up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to Central African Republic to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops, who have struggled to stop the fighting that started when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago in the majority Christian state.

Failure to launch the mission would be an embarrassment for the European Union, which has been trying to burnish its credentials as a security organisation, and a setback for France, which has called for more European support for its efforts in Central African Republic.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote to governments on March 11 to say the EU had hoped to launch the operation next Monday but that "the difficulties we are experiencing in generating the necessary capabilities to establish the EU force put these plans at risk."

"We are in particular still missing logistical enablers, staff for headquarters and infantry units ... As of today the operation commander still does not have sufficient troops at his disposal required to conduct the operation," Ashton wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

"Logistical enablers" means vehicles and soldiers qualified in logistics, according to an EU diplomatic source.

CONSEQUENCES

The EU held three so-called "force generation" conferences in February and early March at which EU governments pledged soldiers and equipment.

A fourth meeting was held on Thursday, after Ashton made her appeal, but there was little change in the situation and key equipment and troops were still lacking, the source said, adding that about 80 percent of the required troops had been pledged.

Based on this situation, the force's French commander Major-General Philippe Ponties would conclude that he could not recommend launching the mission for now, the source said.

In her letter, Ashton spelled out the consequences of a failure to launch the mission, saying that, in the short term, it would make it difficult for the United Nations to deploy a planned peacekeeping force which is expected to be nearly 12,000-strong.

"In the long term, the EU would risk losing its credibility. Indeed, our deployment has been announced to our partners in the Central African Republic and in the region, to the African Union and to the U.N.," she said.

"The time has come for us to deliver and we must support the international community in a joint effort to make the Central African Republic a secure place to live in," she said.

Estonia, France, Latvia and Portugal are among EU states that have committed soldiers to the force so far as well as non-EU member Georgia, diplomats say. (Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Related Spotlights
RELATED CONTENT
Related Content
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs