Valentine Rugwabiza, who also heads up the UN Stabilization Mission in CAR, said ‘blue helmets’ had paid a key role in civilian protection as the threat from armed groups and other violent actors continues, as well as in delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid.
The mission has taken a “robust, preventive, and proactive posture in response to alerts received from communities”, she told ambassadors, speaking in French.
MINUSCA will continue to preemptively position forces where needed to help restore order, provide assistance, advance the national disarmament and reintegration policy for former militia members, and help cut off supply routes for rebels – in line with human rights-sensitive policies.
She noted with concern, however, that civilian protection efforts continue to be hampered by armed groups along the border of western CAR, “which are the most affected by the laying of mines and explosive devices to which our own Force was subjected earlier this month.”
“The resurgence of armed group activity and the use of explosive devices in border areas in the north-west of the country make it difficult or impossible to access populations in critical and urgent need of humanitarian assistance.”
Lift ban on night flights
At the start of her briefing, she paid tribute to the fallen blue helmets from the Bangladesh contingent, who were killed on 3 October near the Cameroon border and appealed to the Government of CAR to lift its ban on night flights, which “are essential for the safety and security of peacekeepers, humanitarian actors, all partners on the ground”, and civilians receiving aid.
She added that without being able to fly at night, pilots were losing the certification that allowed them to do so, a dangerous gap in their training and ability to respond in emergencies.
Despite robust action on the part of MINUSCA or the Government to try and restore calm and security across CAR, she said it was essential to create the conditions for a “political resolution of the Central African crisis”, and to deter armed groups from using violence, to achieve their ends.
As long as violence is a viable option, the people of CAR, particularly the most vulnerable, will continue to bear the brunt of conflict.
The Special Representative said there was no alternative now but to “seize the emerging opportunity” to move peace forward in a way that achieves real results.
“This is the ambition displayed by the Government and the hope nourished by all the international partners who are investing in supporting the implementation of the Government’s timetable.”
Collective search for peace
She said the latest report of the Secretary-General testifies to the “immeasurable contribution, and still indispensable contribution of MINUSCA’s multidimensional mandate, on which the populations, the host Government and the subregion still rely in our collective search for lasting political solutions to the crisis in the Central African Republic.”