Central Southern Africa

In the Central African Republic, significant urgency, discreet lobbying, sustained action

The meeting in New York on the CAR on September 25 (credit: European Commission)
The meeting in New York on the CAR on September 25 (credit: European Commission)

(BRUSSELS2) Meeting in Luxembourg, EU Foreign Ministers have just called “ to a strong, rapid and coordinated mobilization in the face of the crisis in the Central African Republic.

“The European Union is deeply concerned by the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) where insecurity and the total breakdown of public order expose civilian populations, in particular children who are the most vulnerable, to attacks. serious to human rights. The humanitarian situation is alarming: the entire population is considered to be at serious risk. »

These words may seem to be the usual diplomatic verbatim for a French (or French-speaking) public, familiar with the Central African Republic, as it seems obvious that the crisis is serious. But this “obviousness” is not shared by all Europeans. Far from there ! In the Central African Republic, although discreet, the action of European diplomacy was very real and, above all, well coordinated. Details…

Become aware, first of all

Above all, as an expert in the case explains to B2, it was necessary “ raise awareness, interest all European players (and international partners) to this somewhat forgotten crisis”. It was also necessary to resolve a crisis between ECCAS (the Economic Community of Central African States), which considered itself competent to intervene (but did not have the means) and the African Union. A work of diplomatic haute couture which deserves a tip of the hat.

A discreet action

While this subject has only been in the news recently and occasionally, the European Union has tackled the problem head on. “ We didn't communicate much. But this question was, very early on and well before there was any public interest in the matter, taken seriously », confirms a senior European diplomat whom I interviewed. “ We have been active on three dimensions of this crisis: security, humanitarianism, economic and social development » without forgetting the political aspect.

Political visits

The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Kristalina Georgieva, said: heavily involved in the case. LThe “humanitarian” component of the crisis is, in fact, very strong. After a visit this summer with Valerie Amos, the UN coordinator for humanitarian affairs (OCHA), she returned for a more official visit with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, a week ago ( Sunday October 13). Between the two, the meeting organized on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on September 25, certainly constituted an important political momentum, before a resolution was voted on in the Security Council.

Evaluation missions

On the technical side, “several assessment missions were also sent to the field”. First of all, a “mixed” mission from the European Diplomatic Service (EEAS), made up of military personnel, development specialists (Devco), humanitarian aid (ECHO), and the various units concerned from the EEAS (especially the geographical unit). ) went to Bangui. Another mission also went to Addis Ababa to the headquarters of the European Union.

Discreet contacts

Delegations from the European Union, like certain bilateral embassies, were mobilized to convince, one by one, the African countries of ECCAS that it was in everyone's interest to facilitate the transition between ECCAS and the Union. Africa for the resolution of this crisis. “ It took a little while and it was not to won in advance » as admitted by a European who closely followed this negotiation.

And planning help

We can also add to this diplomatic presence, planning assistance carried out by European officers placed with the African Union (an officer is on site in Addis Ababa) and with ECCAS, the economic community of Central Africa. ). 

act right away

As an expert in the case explains to B2, “ We must act now and not in three months”. « We are facing a major, acute crisis, where the entire population of the country (even if it is not very numerous, around 4,6 million inhabitants) is affected at the same time. What is rare ". The geographical position of the Central African Republic, between Sudan and the Congo, is crucial. Located on a fault line between Muslims and Christians or animists, it could awaken peaceful conflicts (Chad-Sudan in particular). A country " located at the crossroads of several areas weakened by years of crisis or conflict, by poaching, the presence of foreign armed groups, including the Lord's Resistance Army and by the rise of transnational terrorist threats as the 28 specify in their press release.

To follow on the Club (subscribers): Central African Republic: what the European Union can and will do

For those who want to have an overview of the humanitarian situation, read on the blog “Humanitarianism in all its states” of my friend Frédéric Joli of the ICRC in Paris: Central African Republic: the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).