Thursday, January 31, 2019

UN extends Central African Republic arms embargo

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to extend an arms embargo on Central African Republic for a year but also raised the possibility that it could be lifted earlier as the government has urged.

The French-drafted resolution says the council intends to establish benchmarks by April 30 on security sector reform, the demobilization and reintegration of combatants, and the management of weapons and ammunition that could guide a review of the arms embargo.

It asks the panel of experts monitoring the arms embargo and sanctions against individuals, which were also extended, to assess progress on the benchmarks by July 31, and says the council will review the arms embargo measures by Sept. 30.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said the government’s “message was heard loud and clear” and the roadmap “could in a few months time” lead to lifting of the arms embargo.

Central African Republic has been wracked by interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, and violence has intensified and spread in the past year.

Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s secretary general, said last week that the country “is steering toward a catastrophe” unless a new round of peace talks in Sudan succeeds.

He said repeated cycles of violence in one of the world’s poorest nations “have pushed people’s resistance to breaking point,” and a majority of Central African Republic’s 2.9 million people “urgently need humanitarian support.”

The resolution adopted Thursday welcomes “the significant efforts made by the CAR authorities” to advance security sector reform, including by developing a national defense plan and national security policy.

It acknowledges “the urgent need for the CAR authorities to train and equip their defense and security forces to be able to respond proportionately to threats to the security of all citizens in the CAR.”

Russia and the European Union have sent military advisers to train CAR’s poorly equipped army.

The panel of experts said in its latest report that it granted several exemptions to allow shipments of weapons from France, Russia, China, the United States and Belgium for CAR’s army.

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