U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 14, 2014
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United States Senate condemns violence in the Central African Republic

Senate unanimously welcomes international peacekeeping efforts and calls on President Obama to establish a strategy for ending the violence and establishing a durable peace

WASHINGTON – The United States Senate on Thursday voted unanimously to condemn the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic, welcome international peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, and urge President Obama to work with our international partners to develop a strategy for achieving a cease-fire and establishing a sustainable peace. U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, introduced the resolution following a hearing they held in the Subcommittee on the crisis in the Central African Republic.

“Stopping the violence in the Central African Republic requires the support and sustained engagement of the international community,” Senator Coons said. “Half of the population of CAR is in need of humanitarian assistance, and there are nearly a million refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of this crisis.  There have been horrific incidents of ethnically-based violence including mass killings and lynchings, along with the mass exodus of Muslims from the country. What we are seeing today in CAR is ethnic and religious partitioning of the country, and it requires a stronger immediate response from the international community. I am grateful to Senator Flake and my other colleagues in the Senate for unanimously supporting U.S. and international efforts to end the violence, protect civilians, and address root causes of conflict.”

Since a coup in March 2013, the Central African Republic has experienced escalating violence and lawlessness. The unrest has forced Central Africans to flee their homes – resulting in approximately 700,000 internally displaced persons and another 290,000 refugees within neighboring countries – and half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance.  Approximately 6,000 African peacekeepers and 2,000 French forces have been deployed to the Central African Republic, and last week the UN Secretary General recommended transitioning the AU-led mission to an official UN peacekeeping operation. Senator Coons chaired a hearing on the situation in CAR in the African Affairs Subcommittee in December 2013.

The resolution can be downloaded as a PDF here: http://bit.ly/1guqgI3.

Full text of the resolution is below:

RESOLUTION

 

Concerning the crisis in the Central African Republic and supporting United States and international efforts to end the violence, protect civilians, and address root causes of the conflict.

Whereas, for more than 50 years, successive governments in the Central African Republic have struggled to build a durable system of democratic institutions, to effectively secure and control the country’s territory and borders, and to ensure a basic level of socio-economic development for the country’s people;

Whereas, despite its natural resource wealth, the Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world and one of the lowest ranking countries in terms of human development according to the United Nations Development Program;

Whereas, in January 2013, regional leaders brokered the Libreville Agreements between the government of then-President Francois Bozizé and the loosely allied rebel militia known as Séléka, which resulted in the formation of a government of national unity;

Whereas, despite the Libreville Agreements, President Bozizé was ousted in March 2013 by the Séléka coalition, and the Séléka leader, Michel Djotodia, declared himself president;

Whereas, in April 2013, regional leaders issued the N’djamena Declaration in an effort to pursue a return to constitutional order based on the Libreville Agreements;

Whereas an influx of foreign fighters, especially from Chad and Sudan, has been a major factor in the increased number of Séléka fighters, from approximately 5,000 in March 2013, to an estimated 20,000 as of December 2013;

Whereas both Séléka forces and armed militia groups known as “anti-balakas”, some of which formed initially as a means of protecting communities against Se1le1ka, have been implicated in ethnically-motivated violence and grave and systemic human rights abuses against civilians;

Whereas, over the course of the crisis, Séléka and anti-balaka groups have displayed weak control and command structures, and committed crimes against humanity with impunity;

Whereas, according to UNICEF, thousands of child soldiers are involved in armed groups in the Central African Republic, amid the near-total collapse of the country’s primary education system;

Whereas interethnic, intercommunal, and interreligious tensions and violence have risen to alarming levels and led to systematic human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, including targeted killings, rapes, acts of torture, looting, and arbitrary detention;

Whereas the United States Embassy in Bangui suspended operations on December 28, 2012, and the ordered departure of country team staff has temporarily suspended the diplomatic presence and consular services of the United States in the Central African Republic;

Whereas more than 700,000 civilians have been internally displaced; another 290,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Cameroon, and South Sudan; 2,600,000 people, or over half of the population of the Central African Republic, are in need of humanitarian assistance; and 60 percent of households have no available food stocks;

Whereas a failure of the international community to appropriately respond to and address the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic could result in further atrocities, mass displacement, and protracted instability with significant repercussions for regional and international security;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 2127 (2013) called for urgent and increased international assistance to the African Union International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) to ensure that the force can fulfill its mandate to restore security and protect civilians, and placed an arms embargo on the Central African Republic;

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 2127 requested the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic in order to ensure accountability for perpetrators of violence;

Whereas the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic has been hindered by a lack of resources and constrained by insecurity;

Whereas, consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2127, the Government of France launched a stabilization operation, Operation Sangaris, in the Central African Republic to assist MISCA in fulfilling its mandate;

Whereas, on March 3, 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended to the United Nations Security Council a transition to a United Nations peacekeeping mission with a primary mandate to protect civilians; and

Whereas the United States Government has provided crisis and humanitarian assistance commitments totaling $182,500,000 in response to instability in the Central African Republic, including support for conflict resolution efforts, humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, and assistance to troop contributing countries to MISCA such as airlift, non-lethal equipment, military logistics, and training, as well as logistical support for French forces: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the violence, atrocities, abuses, and human rights violations committed by all parties to the conflict in the Central African Republic;

(2) commends the efforts of religious and community leaders in the Central African Republic condemning violence and engaging in conflict prevention and conflict resolution activities;

(3) welcomes the mobilization of international peacekeeping, conflict mitigation, humanitarian, and diplomatic resources, and encourages continued efforts to help address humanitarian needs, bring an end to the violence, and develop sustainable democratic institutions in the Central African Republic;

(4) welcomes the January 2014 decision of the Transitional National Council on the election of Catherine Samba-Panza as the Central African Republic’s new transitional president;

(5) commends the African Union and its troop and police contributing countries for their work establishing and supporting MISCA;

(6) recognizes the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAS) for its leadership in the political transition process;

(7) commends France for its swift intervention under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2127, and for its contributions to stabilization efforts and other forms of assistance;

(8) welcomes the United Nations Security Council support for MISCA and the Department of Peacekeeping Operation’s ongoing contingency planning for a possible transition to a United Nations peacekeeping operation;

(9) affirms support for multilateral peacekeeping and policing capacities and recognizes the important contributions these efforts have made in protecting civilians in the Central African Republic and promoting international peace and stability;

(10) calls on the President to work with international partners to develop a short-term strategy to support a full and immediate cessation of armed conflict in the Central African Republic, including attacks targeting civilians and the recruitment of child soldiers;

(11) calls on the President to develop a long-term United States strategy, in support of international and domestic efforts, to establish a durable peace and greater security for the Central African Republic and to enhance regional stability, including—

(A) engagement and coordination with the international community, including the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, the United Nations, and other partners;

(B) appropriate assistance to help provide emergency relief and support reconciliation for the people of the Central African Republic;

(C) technical, logistical and other forms of assistance, as appropriate, in support of effective disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of fighters; and

(D) support for appropriate mechanisms to ensure accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses and violence; and

(12) urges the Secretary of State to consider the expeditious reestablishment of a United States diplomatic presence in the Central African Republic.

Tags:
African Affairs Subcommittee
peacekeeping
Subcommittee on African Affairs
Central African Republic
Africa
African Union
Foreign Relations
refugees
United Nations
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