documentBy Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Washington — U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says the U.N. Security Council took a major step toward ending atrocities, inter-religious fighting and the humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic by establishing almost 12,000 peacekeepers.
Speaking at the United Nations, Power said the new peacekeeping force can build on security gains made by an African Union-led force and French forces already in the country.
"Having just returned from CAR this morning, I can personally attest to the critical urgency of bringing more security to the Central African Republic," Power told journalists April 10 in New York.
The Security Council on April 10 authorized a force of 10,000 U.N.-led peacekeepers and 1,800 police officers to take over from 5,000 African Union peacekeepers from seven African nations. The separate French force of 2,000 troops was authorized to use "all necessary force" in support of the new U.N. force that is set to arrive by September 15.
The aim of the integrated U.N. force is to protect civilians and establish a safe environment for delivering humanitarian assistance, and also to support re-establishment of a working government throughout the country, assist in election preparations, speed the disarmament and demobilization of combatants, assist in reconciliation, promote and protect human rights, and support accountability for those who abused human rights, a State Department spokeswoman said.
Power, who is the permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations, said that while in Bangui she paid tribute to the African Union and French forces, assuring them of "the United States' and the world's gratitude for their courageous service."
"The violence that began in late 2012, with growing attacks perpetrated by both Muslim and Christian militias, has brought the Central African Republic to the edge of disaster," Power told reporters.
While AU and French forces have saved lives, more violence continues in small villages throughout the countryside, Power added. Even as plans are made for the U.N. peacekeeping force, the United States will continue working with allies and friends to ensure that the AU and French have the support they need to end the violence and resolve humanitarian challenges, she said.
The United States previously announced a commitment of up to $100 million to support security in the Central African Republic. And the United States has provided over $45 million in humanitarian assistance in 2014, on top of $24 million provided in 2013.
Power announced April 10 that the United States has committed an additional $22 million in humanitarian aid for the people of Central African Republic, which brings the total this year to $67 million in assistance.
"This new assistance will address a range of pressing issues facing internally displaced persons and refugees, including health, protection, livelihoods, food distribution, and water and sanitation," Power said.