Let me thank our hosts, Under-Secretary-General Amos, EU Commissioner Georgieva, and Foreign Minister Fabius, for holding this roundtable. But more importantly for their consistent leadership in drawing attention to and seeking to address what I’ve heard referred to as “the worst crisis most people have never heard of.” And they’re changing that. These individuals in particular have done a tremendous job of raising the profile of this important issue.
Thank you, also, Mr. Prime Minister, for your efforts and for your remarks. And let me just take this opportunity to tell you that the Central African Republic’s ambassador here, your PR, Ambassador Doubane, has done a tremendous job of drawing attention to the plight of your people and your country, and humanizing it at every turn–again, recognizing that a lot of people don’t know what they need to know yet about what is happening on the ground.
My government views recent events in the Central Africa Republic with anguish at the horrific degree of suffering, and we are deeply angered by the atrocities perpetrated by Séléka rebels against innocent civilians, including many children. We are also deeply alarmed by the prospect of CAR becoming a safe haven for violent extremists. The devastating events in Kenya the last few days only underscore how terrorist groups and other extremists take advantage of lawless or ungoverned spaces.
In partnership with the UN, the EU, and African regional organizations, we seek an immediate end to the violence, help for the victims, and restoration of political and social stability. There must be accountability for those responsible for the horrific abuses, and we encourage the CAR government to work with the UN and the rest of the international community to take steps toward establishing a vetting and DDR program, which would be critical to moving forward.
I am pleased to report that my government has recently contributed $6.2 million in assistance for CAR refugees in neighboring countries. This is on top of the $24 million in humanitarian assistance we have provided within the CAR and, of course, the millions of dollars we have provided for refugee operations in the neighboring countries previously. We encourage other states to raise their contribution levels as well. But we agree with Under-Secretary General Amos and Foreign Minister Fabius that humanitarian assistance will address the symptoms but not the causes. And so we need not congratulate ourselves for how much money we spend, if we have to keep spending it because we don’t get at the core roots of the crisis.
Recognizing that security is a precondition to stability, we strongly favor the deployment of an African Union peacekeeping mission and we are exploring ways to furnish bilateral technical and financial aid. It is both vital and urgent that other states join in backing this effort, whether with money or troop contributions to the AU mission. No mission can succeed without sufficient international support, but with it—and I think this is something Under-Secretary General Amos has made clear in all her public remarks on this crisis—there is still a chance for this mission to make the difference between death and life for thousands of people.
We also support the enhancement of BINUCA to address this crisis by increasing its capacity to monitor human rights, assist regional leaders in finding a political solution, and work with the AU peacekeeping mission to restore security.
In closing, I note that leaders in the Central African Republic have agreed to an 18-month road map for a return to democratic governance. We call upon all parties to respect the commitments set out in the Libreville Agreements to achieve that end. And we look forward to working with our partners around the room to address this crisis in a more intensive and sustained manner than has been the case in the past. There are ghastly stories emerging from the CAR, and there should be no question that the violence there constitutes a terrible human tragedy and a threat to international peace and security, and that merits the full and immediate prioritization and attention of the international community at the highest levels.
Thank you so much.
- Cross posted at U.S. Mission to the UN