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Central African Republic

Volume 572: debated on Monday 9 December 2013

The Government are increasingly concerned about the deteriorating security situation and growing humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic. We are working with international partners, and through international organisations, to end the violence, deliver humanitarian support, and re-establish stability and security. As the Central African Republic is surrounded by countries that are still recovering or suffering from recent conflicts, engagement by the international community is vital to prevent a repetition of previous crises in the region. The scale of this challenge means that we must use all means at our disposal: our diplomatic networks, aid and trade, our political relations, and our military and security co-operation.

The Government have worked closely with France and other Security Council partners to agree a United Nations Security Council resolution on the Central African Republic; resolution 2127 was adopted on 5 December. UNSCR 2127 marks a critical step in restoring security and authorises the deployment of the African-led international support mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA). MISCA will contribute to: the protection of civilians; the vital restoration of security and public order; the stabilisation of the country; the restoration of state authority over the whole country; and the creation of conditions to enable the provision of humanitarian assistance. It also authorises French forces to take all necessary measures to support MISCA in the discharge of its mandate and, recognising the severity of the situation, imposes an arms embargo and encourages progress on the transitional arrangements initiated in Libreville on 11 January 2013.

Shortly after UNSCR 2127 was adopted, President Hollande announced that France would be launching operation Sangaris immediately, in conjunction with Africans and with the support of European partners. On 6 December, following this announcement and in response to a request from the Government of France to provide logistical support to their operation, the United Kingdom deployed a RAF C-17 transport aircraft to move French equipment to the Central African Republic. In the spirit of our strong bilateral relationship with France and in line with the undertakings of the Lancaster House treaty of 2010, the United Kingdom will provide a further two RAF C-17 flights between now and mid-December to help the rapid deployment of equipment for French forces in support of MISCA. The Government have no intention to deploy UK troops in a combat role and have therefore clearly defined the level of support that we will provide to France.

Our military support follows the announcement of a £10 million UK aid package, having already contributed £5 million in July. We are now one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the people of the Central African Republic and will operate alongside the International Red Cross and UN agencies to help thousands of people gain access to food, water, shelter, sanitation and healthcare. We will continue to work closely with France and other partners to improve the security situation in the Central African Republic and relieve the suffering of its people.