Let me thank today’s briefers for their valuable insights, and let me also thank Secretary-General Guterres for his latest report on the Central African Republic.
Recent news from the CAR, including the latest SG report, is very sobering. Norway is deeply concerned about the increase in protection concerns, and the dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country: Over half the population needs humanitarian assistance and protection. One third remains displaced. Half of the country’s children are out of school. And food insecurity has reached alarming levels, and risks getting even worse next year.
Crucially: much of this humanitarian crisis is man-made. Therefore, we see three important elements that must change to ease the suffering of the people:
First, the violence against civilians must stop. Human rights violations and abuses- including conflict-related sexual violence- must stop. Violations of international humanitarian law must stop. Violations and abuses of children’s rights, including the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict must stop. Targeted abuse and stigmatization of ethnic and religious minorities must stop.
And let me be clear: this is a message to all parties to the conflict.
Armed groups should lay down their arms and commit to DDR/R processes. But the national defence forces and their foreign instructors also bear a heavy responsibility. The Secretary-General is clear in his latest report, which states that: “MINUSCA’s investigations revealed that most civilian deaths from recent clashes resulted from indiscriminate, disproportionate, and excessive use of force by national defence forces and bilaterally deployed and other security personnel.” This is unacceptable: the national army and those who have been invited to support it should protect the people – not kill, rape and loot.
Second, the recent sharp increase in the number and the gravity of SOFA violations by national security forces- but also by their Russian instructors- is inadmissible. MINUSCA is an instrument of this Council. It must be allowed to do its work, and fully and independently implement its mandate. MINUSCA’s access should be unrestricted for the mission to truly protect civilians- as it is mandated to do. We urge all those with influence over the actors on the ground to help end the targeting of MINUSCA, and ensure the safety and security of UN Peacekeepers. Recent signals by the CAR authorities are positive, but we need to see an actual change in the field.
Norway also strongly condemns the targeting of humanitarian workers and infrastructure. We call on all actors to ensure unhindered humanitarian access.
Third, an inclusive political dialogue must be resumed. We need a reinvigorated Peace Agreement. We applaud the announcement by President Touadéra of the imminent launch of a “republican dialogue”. We encourage him to make this dialogue genuinely inclusive, addressing all legitimate grievances.
And we congratulate Prime Minister Dondra on his recent appointment, and are looking forward to the formation of a new, inclusive government. We call on the new Prime Minister to ensure the full, equal, and meaningful political participation of women. This could be a unique opportunity to put the political process back on track. We particularly recommend making use of the excellent AU resources to this end, such as
Norway commends regional actors also for their engagement. We applaud the intensified involvement from the AU, UN, EU and ECCAS. We appreciate the leadership the President of Angola has taken, and urge the government of CAR to honour commitments on dialogue and inclusion made during the second mini-summit in Luanda in April. We encourage the ICGLR to continue working closely with the international community in these important mediation efforts.
Let me conclude by expressing Norway’s deep appreciation for the work MINUSCA is doing, in very challenging circumstances. We are pleased to see that the reinforcement of the Mission is gearing up, following the decision of this Council to increase the troop ceilings. Norway has also decided to second civilian staff to MINUSCA.
SRSG Ndiaye, you and your team have our full support and confidence.
I thank you.