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Central African Republic

Published on November 21, 2013
Interview given by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations to BBC World News and the BBC World Service radio¹

New York, November 20, 2013

Interview with BBC World News

Q. – Mr Ambassador, tell us what your country’s position is now. Is France prepared to support more troops in the Central African Republic?

M. ARAUD – First I think unfortunately we should agree to what has been told: the situation in the Central African Republic is horrendous, horrific, especially the humanitarian situation. You have dozens of thousands of refugees without any humanitarian support and there is the risk of a real civil war. So we, the French, we are ready to increase our military presence in the Central African Republic so that we can help the Africans solve the situation, because an African force is being deployed right now in the Central African Republic. Nothing is possible in this country if law and order are not re-established in the very short term.

Q. – Mr Ambassador, you say that France is willing to support the efforts with more troops. By how many? How many more troops do you want to put to the Central African Republic?

M. ARAUD – For the moment we have about 400 soldiers. I guess we could go up beyond 1,000 soldiers, but we will be there in support. This is not a French intervention. It is about supporting the Africans, because the African Union has decided to solve the problem. The African Union is sending a force of nearly 4,000 soldiers. We are ready to help them if they need us.

Q. – How is this different from the situation in Mali? The argument was made there that France was supporting the African troops but, ultimately, France took the lead and had to do a lot of the fighting. How would it be different in the Central African Republic?

M. ARAUD – You cannot on one side argue against former colonial powers doing all the job and then rush to Paris and say: “please do the job”. The reality right now is that the African Union has really told us they want to solve the problem. We went to Mali because there was an emergency: the country was about to be taken over by terrorist groups. Here we have an African force arriving. The threat is less acute, but it is a widespread problem, so we do hope, and we do think that the Africans can do the job.

Thank you very much, Ambassador.

Interview with BBC World Service radio

Q. – So what is your reaction to the views expressed in the Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council?

M. ARAUD – Actually I was not surprised, because I met a lot of NGOs or people working on the ground and all their reports are horrendous, really horrendous. The state has collapsed and the Central African Republic is basically controlled by thugs who are killing, raping and plundering. So we have to act. On a humanitarian basis, on a political basis, on a regional basis the international community has to react.

Q. – And do you agree that the conflict there risks spiralling out of control and contributing essentially to the instability in the whole region?

M. ARAUD – Yes, because in the beginning the thugs who took over in Bangui targeted Christians, and as a result Christians have created self-defence militias, which are now targeting Muslims. So we have the risk of a real civil war on an inter-sectarian basis and we also have incidents on the borders. So you have all the elements of real mass atrocities.

Q. – France already has a military presence in the Central African Republic. Are you saying that there should be more troops perhaps from the United Nations?

M. ARAUD – Actually, first, on the French side, we are going to increase our military presence, but the African Union has decided to deploy a force in the Central African Republic and this force is getting deployed right now. It will reach 4,500 soldiers. They want to re-establish a modicum of law and order in the country. So the French soldiers will be there to support our African friends in their job, because the African Union has really clearly taken the lead./.

¹M. Araud spoke in English.

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