UN team on peacekeeping options heads to Central African Republic in next two weeks

UN team on peacekeeping options heads to Central African Republic in next two weeks

Lamine Cissé (L) and Toby Lanzer speak to reporters
A United Nations assessment mission will head to the Central African Republic (CAR) within the next fortnight to consider whether blue helmets should be sent to stabilize the troubled country and its neighbour Chad in the wake of recent clashes between rebels and Government forces in both countries.

Lamine Cissé, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the CAR, told reporters today after giving a briefing to the Security Council that the mission team is currently determining its terms of reference and will travel to the region either “next week or the week after.”

That mission is expected to then make recommendations on whether a UN force or some other operation is needed for the CAR and/or for Chad.

The UN Peacebuilding Office to the country (BONUCA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other outside parties have also stepped up their efforts for all sides – including the rebels – to begin formal political dialogue as early as next month, Gen. Cissé said.

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) inside the CAR has topped 150,000, with most concentrated in the country’s north and east, close to the borders with Chad and Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.

Toby Lanzer, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to the CAR, said today that “clearly we’re very worried about the humanitarian situation. It is extremely serious.”

Mr. Lanzer and Gen. Cissé also expressed concern about a reported armed attack last night by rebels in the town of Paoua, northwest of the capital, Bangui. Gen. Cissé said UN officials are still investigating whether the attackers are part of an existing rebel force, criminal gang or group of bandits.

Tomorrow a separate team heads from Bangui by road to the CAR’s northeast to assess the situation of IDPs in that region.