With violence in the Central African Republic continuing, and complaints of little effectiveness towards the forces from the West coming in, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on April 10 to send in 12,000 peacekeeping troops.
Currently France is holding its 2,000 peacekeeping troops in the nation until the UN force is ready. The hope is that this influx will bring some stability to a struggling nation torn by religious and ethnic violence.
Help from neighboring African nations has been offered, and there are currently 5,000 African Union troops in the nation. However, troops from Chad were recalled earlier in April as reports spread that they were shooting civilians in the capital of Bangui.
Reports like those of the Chadian peacekeepers are troubling and continue to raise questions over who incoming peacekeepers should support. When the efforts began at the end of 2013, the concern was over Muslim militia killing Christians in the region. However, once the peacekeepers came in, retaliatory killings by Christian “anti-balaka” militia resulted in migrations by Muslims and perilous refugee camps set up in the capital of Bangui.
To the credit of the United Nations, they appear to be taking a pro-active response to these complaints. The arrival of more troops meets a pressing need as there had been many complaints over the lack of troops and their reluctance to enter the more dangerous regions of the nation. Hopefully a troop influx will meet victims’ needs.
In the weeks before the vote by the UNSC violence appeared to be escalating in the region. In the days before the vote at least 30 people died in attacks by the anti-balaka militia. UN estimates that were published in the lead-up to the vote estimated that a quarter of the population was “in desperate need of aid.”
The violence in the Central African Republic has gotten little of the media attention that conflicts in Ukraine and Syria have gotten, yet it is a burgeoning problem in a region of growing importance. The peacekeeping announcement is a step in the right direction for the international community. Organizations like the Borgen Project advocate for assistance in regions of turmoil like the Central African Republic is currently dealing with.
While this mission may be meant to encourage peace in the region, it may be some time before that goal is achieved. The work in nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo shows how difficult that peace efforts in out-of-the way posts are for the West. The efforts will be monitored and followed by the members of the Borgen Project, in the hope that the citizens of the CAR will live better lives soon.