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28 January 2014 - Central African Republic - Interview of Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, with France 24

Q: This was an important vote designed to give the European troops the right to use force. How important was it that they get that right?

You remember that the first step was to give a mandate to the French and the African forces to try to restore a modicum of law and order in Bangui. And they have done it. There is still an incredible hatred between the Muslims and the Christians though, and at night they are killing each other. So we need all the necessary support. And the Europeans are coming. They will be between 500 and 1,000. Their mission will be first to protect the airport. 100,000 IPDs went to the airport for protection. 100,000 is a huge amount of people. So the Europeans will protect them, which will allow the French to go to Bangui and to restore law and order there with the Africans.

Q: You told the United Nations tonight that 10,000 more troops were needed in the Central African Republic. It seems like a huge figure.

What I said is that according to the UN Secretariat the necessary force should be of around 10,000 to face the challenge we have in the Central African Republic. For the moment we have between 5,000 and 6,000 Africans, between 1,500 and 2,000 French and you will have the Europeans. So we are around 8,000. But the UN Secretariat thinks that 10,000 should be the necessary ceiling.

Q: The French went alone in the beginning, the EU are now to send a force of about 500 troops as well to the Central African republic. One senses growing frustration on the part of France that the international community has not done more on this issue?

It took time to the international community to recognize that we should do something in the Central African Republic. It is true it was a forgotten crisis. But I think now everybody has realized that the humanitarian situation there is awful. You have between 800,000 and 1 million IDPs on a population of 5 million inhabitants, and the killings, the inter-sectarian violence. I think that now people are realizing that we should do something. The Africans are coming, as I told you 5,000 African soldiers. Now the European Union is coming too, which means not only the soldiers but also the political, the financial commitments of the Europeans. Very recently we heard the new German Foreign Minister saying that Germany should do more in Africa. So I think the mobilization is there now.

Q: we have heard there hs been more violence, 13 killed yesterday alone. It seems violence has turned towards the Muslim minority as the ex-Seleka rebels are put aside as their camps are cleared by the troops. There is a fear that things have gone too far in a cycle of violence that has begun back in March for things to be stopped as easily as they might have a long time ago.

When we arrived in the beginning of December, it was just after two nights during which the Seleka had indulged into an orgy of killings. Nearly 1,000 people were killed, most of them being Christians. So now we have the cycle of revenge, of retaliation, not against the murderers but against all the Muslims. So there is an incredible amount of hatred and resentment. The religious leaders are doing their best. They are going throughout the country and calling for reconciliation. But it will take time to reach this point. So for the moment we need law and order. We need also a political process so that the Central African people understand that they have to shift to a normal political life. But it is true we are in a very dire situation in the Central African Republic.

Learn more on the Central African Republic.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU