French peacekeeping troops in Central African Republic (CAR) have been withdrawn from the war torn country despite ongoing violence in the region. Operation Sangaris had been in effect since 2013, a French military response to the barbaric conflict between Muslim rebel group Seleka, and Anti-Balaka, a Christian rebel group, following the ousting of former president Francois Bozizé. Current Defence Minister of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian authorised the ending of Sangaris, stating that he was “proud of” the operation, deeming it a success.
Despite Le Drian’s remarks, current president of CAR, Anicet Georges Dologuele expressed his frustration with the decision, claiming that France had “pulled out far too early.” Violence has remained high and civilians throughout the country are perpetually on edge due to the sporadic attacks in recent months.
Last month, on the 12th October, Human Rights Watch reported that “37 civilians were killed, 57 wounded and thousands were displaced” in Kaga Bandoro because of ongoing rebel based conflict. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reported that the attack has committed “humanitarian law violations”. This comes off the back of Seleka’s frequent inhumane and torturous measures to inflict pain and suffering on one of the world’s poorest countries.
Witnesses from the site in Kaga Bandoro claim that United Nations peacekeeping troops were unable to stop the mass influx of Seleka forces from crossing a bridge leading to an innocent civilisation. MINUSCA’s report also further highlights that national security forces have been non-existent in Kaga Bandoro since the beginning of the civil war in 2013.
Fighting continued on October 25th, as an outbreak of armed clashes in the central city of Bambari saw another 25 rebel personnel, police officers and civilians lose their lives. The United Nations has condemned the cruel conflict, calling for an immediate ending to the “cycle of attack and reprisal.” Human Rights Watch researcher Lewis Mudge asserts that “deadly attacks like these show why UN peacekeepers were given a mandate to protect civilians with all necessary means.” The withdrawal of the French delegation could prove costly with UN peacekeeping troops and national security forces struggling to maintain tranquility in the region.
However, Le Drian vows that France will continue strong relations with CAR despite the removal of their troops. After meeting with the current Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera earlier this week, 350 French soldier will be left in the region as a tactical reserve force.
On Wednesday, the United Nations, European Union, World Bank and the CAR government met to discuss and conjure up a “National Recovery Plan” for CAR which will be shown to potential aid providers later this month.
The conflict, killings, displacements, and widespread national and international tension cannot reoccur following the devastating month of October. The United Nations should be praised for taking immediate action following the withdrawal of France from CAR. They seem to be making every effort possible to instill political and social normality in the region, claiming to do “everything in their power” to put a stop to a repeat of the terror that happened last month.