France will officially ends its military operation “Sangaris” on October 30 in the central Africa Republic (CAR) where security situation remains volatile nearly three years after intervention.
The CAR descended into bloody chaos when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in 2013, toppling president Francois Bozize.
In the capital Bangui, hundreds of people were killed in one week in December when fighters of both sides went door-to-door murdering civilians. Some victims were lynched or stoned to death.
I am very pleased to note that we are closing the Sangaris operation. We are closing the operation because it has been a success.
Also in December, 53 bodies were brought to the mosque in the capital Bangui’s PK5 district. Most victims appeared to have been clubbed or hacked to death.
French Defence Minister,Jean Yves Le Drian who visited the country in 2013, announced the official end of the Sangaris mission which he said had been a success.
“I am very pleased to note that we are closing the Sangaris operation. We are closing the operation because it has been a success,” he added.
Sangaris handed over control to the UN forces, the MINUSCA, and the African Union. However, some 300 French soldiers will remain in CAR.
But many fear that without the strength and tactical expertise of the Sangaris, MINUSCA will fail to protect civilians.
Speaking in Bangui on Thursday (October 27) Lewis Mudge of Human Rights Watch said it was probably too early for Sangaris to leave CAR as MINUSCA was not as fast and tactically strong as Sangaris who also had to benefit of powerful air support.
“They (Sangaris) deploy fast, they have their own chains of hierarchy which they have to obey, so they’re not in the UN system of the chains of hierarchy, and they have helicopters and armour that they can get out very quickly, and the United Nations is going to have to fill that void,” he said.
In 2013, thousand of people flee from the violence in Mpoko airport Bangui Many of them Muslims trying to fly to neighbouring Chad.
M’Poko is where allegations of sexual abuse by the French forces first arose. Four French soldiers are under investigation, but they have yet to be charged.
Study found that children as young as nine were encouraged to take part in oral sex in exchange for food or money in the middle of a war zone.
Even when the French government became aware of the allegations and sought the cooperation of the UN staff, its requests were met with resistance and “became bogged down in formalities” the report said.
Thousands of others simply stayed in the shadow of the French forces who had set up a military base there.
The 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force there has also been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse since its deployment in April 2014.
“Unless those countries which send troops to the Central African Republic hold those troops accountable for the crimes that they’ve committed, you’re going to continue to see a deterioration in faith in the international missions that are currently in place, whether they’d be European Union or United Nations,” said Mudge.
According to UN humanitarian commission for refugees in 2016, 29,000 internally displaced persons are still in M’Poko.
President Faustin Archange Touadera is on a path of reconciliation to try and bring stability to the troubled country.
But Mudge said this would not happen until the perpetrators of the violence continue to control large parts of the country.