Archbishop of Canterbury Raises Concern About Conflict in Central African Republic, South Sudan

Updated: The Archbishop of Canterbury asked three written questions of Government, on conflict in the Central African Republic and on sexual violence and war crimes in South Sudan. They were responded to on 10th and 11th March 2014 by the Foreign Office Senior Minister of State, Baroness Warsi.  The questions and their replies are below.

Central African Republic

(via Parliament.uk)

ImageThe Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the stabilisation of the conflict in the Central African Republic, particularly in ensuring that sectarian violence does not develop into inter-religious conflict.

 The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are greatly concerned by the situation on the ground in the Central African Republic (CAR). The UK provided £15 million to the humanitarian appeal and a further £2million to the African Union to cover some of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA)’s operation. We will continue to review our contribution in light of events. The UK provided logistical support to the French mission at the request of the French government, in the form of three flights to carry French equipment to CAR. We have also worked closely with France to ensure that the EU provided funding support to MISCA.

Our immediate focus is supporting the UN Security Council-mandated MISCA force alongside the French deployment to increase security and humanitarian access.

To further support these stabilisation efforts, the European Council agreed in February to establish a military operation in CAR to achieve a secure environment in the Bangui area. Operational planning continues, and UK is providing a military officer to assist with this. The UK supported a request for the UN Security Council to keep the situation under regular review, including what more can be done to strengthen existing efforts given the severity and urgency of the situation. We will quickly and carefully consider the UN Secretary General report, which will make recommendations for whether they believe the conditions exist for a successful deployment of a UN Peacekeeping Operation.

Military efforts alone cannot bring about long-term stability in CAR. We welcome the work done by religious organisations and non-governmental organisations to diffuse the tensions, as well as the efforts of the transitional government towards a strong and sustainable constitutional government. We will continue to work with the EU and UN in support.

(via Parliament.uk)

The Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking in response to the six-point initiative for the Central African Republic presented by the United Nations Secretary-General to the Security Council on 20 February.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Secretary-General of the United Nation’s 6-point plan for the Central African Republic (CAR) was published on 20 February. The plan calls for the rapid reinforcement of African Union and French troops, logistical and financial support for African troops and funding assistance for the security and judicial sectors. It also urged an accelerated political and reconciliation process, and funding for humanitarian aid.

The UK is already actively supporting elements of this plan. We have supported the French military deployment from the start, providing additional logistical capacity to carry French equipment to CAR. We have also provided £2 million for the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA), to enable it to operate, as well as supporting its reinforcement through the EU. And we have actively worked with the European Council to deploy an EU military force in CAR to help reinforce the Bangui area.

We also continue to work closely with partners in the UN Security Council, helping deliver an effective mandate for the UN Mission and, through the Department for International Development, we have provided £15 million to support the UN-led humanitarian operation.

We agree with the Secretary General that military efforts alone cannot bring about long-term stability in CAR. We welcome the work done by religious organisations and non-governmental organisations to diffuse the tensions, as well as the efforts of the transitional government towards a strong and sustainable constitutional government. We will continue to work with the EU and UN to support this.

We continue to keep the situation under regular review, including what more can be done to strengthen existing efforts given the severity and urgency of the situation. We will also quickly and carefully consider the UN Secretary General report, which will make recommendations for whether they believe the conditions exist for a successful deployment of a UN Peacekeeping Operation.

South Sudan

(via Parliament.uk)

The Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist in the prevention of sexual violence and other war crimes in South Sudan; and what is being done to ensure that perpetrators of violence are not able to act with impunity.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are deeply concerned by continuing reports of human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan, including the use of sexual violence, which the recent UN interim report suggests are being committed by all sides. Preventing sexual violence is one of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s human rights priorities. Our Embassy in Juba has identified preventing sexual violence as one of its top human rights priorities over the coming year. We are supporting the establishment of women’s peacekeeping teams in Northern Bahr el Ghazal and are considering what support we can provide to other address this issue.

The UK commitment of £6m through the Department for International Development’s Rapid Response Facility will support humanitarian agencies operating in South Sudan, includes a provision for psychological support to those affected by gender-based violence.

More broadly, we welcome the African Union’s announcement to establish the Commission of Inquiry, which should ensure that all human rights allegations are investigated and perpetrators are held accountable. We are urging the Commission of Inquiry to act quickly and deploy an investigation team to collect all the necessary information.