Catholic Relief Services Welcomes United Nations Resolution to Send Peacekeeping
Mission to the Central African Republic; Calls for Continued Funding
WASHINGTON, DC, April 11, 2014 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) commends the UN resolution to send a 12,000 strong peacekeeping force to the Central African Republic (CAR), an important first step in rebuilding a country that has been torn apart by violence for more than a year. CRS welcomes the prioritization of peace by the UN but warns that more comprehensive and broader support is needed to secure the country, and to move forward in areas of justice, governance and humanitarian assistance.
“We urge the UN, the U.S. Administration and the international community to pay greater attention to the violence plaguing CAR, especially this week as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide,” said Sean Callahan, CRS’ Chief Operating Officer who just returned from CAR. “The world stood by as nearly one million people were killed in Rwanda 20 years ago, and we cannot let the violence tear the social fabric of CAR.”
CRS also applauds the United States government for its contribution to the security in CAR and its support for the UN Security Council resolution but calls for continued funding of necessary peacekeeping efforts. The U.S. has committed $150 million to the peacekeeping mission so far, but that effort requires at least another $100 million, Callahan says.
The UN force is scheduled to arrive in CAR in September with plans to scale it up in the coming months and with an immediate deployment of 3,000 troops. The mission’s mandate, under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, is to “focus on protection of civilians, restoration of law and order, support of humanitarian access, the monitoring of human rights and fight impunity.”
In addition to the quick arrival of the peacekeeping mission in CAR, CRS calls for:
- The swift implementation of the peacekeeping mandate, particularly on civilian protection, humanitarian access and protection of the religious leaders doing their peacebuilding work;
- Clear command and control structures of the force, especially since the MISCA forces will remain in the country;
- Adequate humanitarian assistance and a longer term plan to assure security and restore people’s livelihoods; • Strengthening of local capacity of police and army to secure the country;
- Inclusion and funding of peace and reconciliation into any humanitarian and longer term planning.
“I saw first-hand the human suffering in CAR, where communities of all faiths used to live together in peace, until now,” Callahan said. “While news reports focus mostly on the violence and religious overtones of the conflict, I also met many people, Christians and Muslims, who want peace and are working toward reconciliation so they can restart their lives.”
“The time to act is now,” Callahan said. “The violence must be stopped so farmers can plant their fields or the entire country will be facing an even greater humanitarian catastrophe in coming months.”
CRS, along with the Catholic Church in CAR, has carried out an emergency response since the onset of the conflict, providing emergency relief assistance that includes shelter, food, living supplies, agricultural recovery, medical care and conflict resolution.
The Church has been on the forefront of the response, supporting and caring for people of all faiths affected by the conflict.
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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in 93 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.