Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Feb 13, 2014
The race is on to find hundreds of troops for the EU's military mission in the troubled Central African Republic, the French head of the operation said Thursday.
"We are working with a sense of urgency," said General Philippe Ponties who took up his post as the mission chief for the force earlier this week.
The objective is to deploy the first soldiers "as quickly as possible" in the capital Bangui to help French and African Union troops already there, Ponties said.
"But at this stage, there are still many unknowns," he added.
EU foreign ministers cleared the 9-month mission on Monday but without resolving who would contribute an estimated 500 troops.
Major EU powers such as Britain and Germany have refused to commit soldiers but have offered logistics support.
Negotiations among the 28 member states are difficult, with many willing to support France in its former colony but reluctant to get drawn into a bloody sectarian conflict between majority Christians and the Muslim community.
Diplomats say Georgia -- anxious to cement good ties with the EU -- could supply up to 100 troops while Estonia has offered 55.
Finland and Luxembourg are other possibilities while Belgium seems uncertain, worried about financing a troop contribution when its state budget is so tight.
The mission approved Monday includes funding of 25.9 million euros but that does not cover the cost of troop contributions which member states would be responsible for.
French President Francois Hollande urged in December for solidarity with France, which had intervened with 1,600 soldiers to prevent CAR becoming a failed state.
In this case, a small EU ground contingent might be enough to satisfy Paris which would then complete the numbers.
Ponties said the EU troops would take up position at Bangui airport, home to up to 100,000 refugees living in "extremely precarious conditions."
The aim is to establish "a very visible presence ... to get tangible results as quick as possible," he said.
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|