14 March 2014

Central Africa: Officials From European Union Visit Central African Turmoil

Germany's new development minister, Gerd Müller, has promised 10 million euros in emergency aid for victims of Central African Republic's turmoil. Visiting Bangui, he said the tramatized nation was "crying out for help."

Development Minister Müller visited the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), Bangui, on Friday with EU and OECD colleagues for talks with civilian aid organizations and CAR's interim president Catherine Samba-Panza.

Müller said Germany's contribution of 10 million euros ($13.9 million) was intended to alleviate hunger and improve hygiene among those displaced by the conflict.

Traveling with Müller was his French colleague Pascal Canfin, EU commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Erik Solheim of the Organization for Economic and Development (OECD).

Much more needed

Müller's ministry said far more - 400 million euros - was actually needed during 2014 to sustain more than two million people, some sheltering in countries neighboring CAR.

Around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people have been displaced as 8,000 African and French peacekeeping troops struggle to rein in the militias.

Cycle of reprisals

Sectarian clashes erupted in March 2013 when mostly northern Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the then-president Francois Bozize and attacked majority Christians, triggering reprisals.

They replaced him with their leader Michel Djotodia, who was himself forced out in January under intense international pressure.

Fatal exhaustion

From Geneva, the UNHCR refugee agency said dozens of Central African refugees, many of them children, had died from starvation and many more were seriously ill from hunger and exhaustion after fleeing to Cameroon.

Agency spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said many fleeing refugees had hidden in the bush without food or clean water for weeks on end.

One woman, whose husband was killed in violence, "lost six of her nine children to hunger" during the journey, Lejeune-Kaba said.

'Shirking' responsibilities

France on Friday accused other EU nations of shirking their responsibilities in failing to provide sufficient troops and resources for a planned 1000-strong EU deployment to the former French colony.

France's foreign and defense ministers, Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian, said: "If additional contributions, including logistics, do not materialize rapidly, it will not be possible to launch this vital operation next week as planned."

Germany's cabinet it due to a make a decision next week on whether to contribute logistics personnel and aircraft fitted out as flying clinics.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently called for more swift, robust international help to stop sectarian violence from turning into genocide.

'Hate' reminscent of Rwanda

A group of UN-mandated investigators led by former Cameroonian judge Bernard Acho Muna said Monday they would probe human rights violations.

Muna said "hate propaganda" in CAR was reminiscent of his time working with Rwanda, where a 1994 genocide left an estimated 800,000 people dead

The Central African crisis has paralyzed the country's administration. On Monday, its state officials were paid their first wages in six months.

ipj/tj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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