By Juliette Darrousez and Julie Seemann-Ricard, translated by Charlotte Grey
From the very beginning, France has made international mobilisation in the Central African Republic a priority. In November 2013, Laurent Fabius, Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced that “France will be there” and “it will act so that the Central African Republic can hope again”. Operation Sangaris’ goal was to break the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic, and then give humanitarian aid to victims. The “anti-balakas” militia, created to defend the Séléka, have effectively lost sight of their initial goal and started targeting civilians.
That is why the authorities, fearing that the massacres will turn into full-blown genocide, have preferred to forestall these problems rather than pick up the pieces, which is a difficult challenge. France has quickly proved its commitment. 1600 soldiers have been sent to support MISCA (International Support Mission to the Central African Republic) and stabilise the situation. In February alone, 400 people were sent as backup.
But France’s support does not only come in the form of military aid. It has also provided logistical support, by supplying equipment and fuel, and has also provided training support by organising operational instruction detachments. To tackle this humanitarian crisis, and to help families, France has increased food and emergency humanitarian aid. As a main investor in the Central African Republic, France has developed, with the Republic, economic partners across various domains. It is also supporting State reform, to allow the government to restore its authority and thus bring back peace.
Indeed, this is France’s goal, and, as François Hollande reminds us, “the mission is to restore public order” to achieve “political transition”. France does not want to abandon the region to Islamist groups, which would run the risk of destabilising neighbouring countries. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, agrees with this strategy, saying that “we have an opportunity, and the responsibility, to prevent what could become widespread atrocities”.
By maintaining dialogue, and by becoming involved in various domains of the Central African Republic, France is showing that it is willing to help the fragile State leave its crises and enter dynamic development. But there is still a lot to do. France, although satisfied that it has been able to extend Operation Sangaris, is tired of being alone. They are expecting necessary support from the international community, especially from the UN Security Council. But what with peace in the Central African Republic, and in the rest of the continent, being a global issue, it is high time that everyone makes concrete commitments.