Tag Archives: Burundi

International Force Will Deploy to South Sudan

Yesterday, East African heads of state announced their decision to deploy an international force to South Sudan starting April in an attempt to stem the conflict there. Troops will reportedly come from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda, all of whom are frequent particpiants in other African peacekeeping operations. Djibouti, which also participates in peacekeeping operations on the continent, may also contribute forces to this new mission. Ugandan troops, who intervened on behalf of the South Sudanese government in January, have said they will withdraw after the new force is deployed.

A map showing internally displaced persons in South Sudan and refugees in neighboring countries, from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs South Sudan Crisis Situation Report No. 26, dated 10 March 2014

A map showing internally displaced persons in South Sudan and refugees in neighboring countries, from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs South Sudan Crisis Situation Report No. 26, dated 10 March 2014

The force will operate under a mandate from the the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African economic bloc, which has been mediating talks in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to try and bring an end to South Sudan’s crisis. The crisis erupted last December following a reported coup attempt. The government subsequently implicated a number of opposition political figures, most notably Riek Machar, as having been behind the attempted overthrow. Riek Machar announced a formal “resistance movement” in February and the country is effectively in a state of civil war.

The IGAD-sponsored talks did produce a ceasefire agreement in January, but this has been repeatedly violated. A second phase of talks to find a lasting political solution to the crisis has stalled. One of the main rebel demands is the release of individuals detained in connection with the coup. South Sudan is proceeding with their treason charges against eleven individuals, and a court has demanded that four individuals previously released and deported to Kenya return to face the indictments.

South Sudan has also accused the UN mission in the country, UNMISS, of collaborating with rebel forces. Last week, South Sudanese forces seized weapons and ammunition from a UN convoy, which UNMISS said had mistakenly been loaded in with humanitarian supplies. UNMISS also denied that landmines were among the munitions and has called on the South Sudanese government to respect their personnel and existing agreements. UNMISS is providing humanitarian assistance and shelter to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons. The UN also estimates that millions in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.

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More Details About US Supported Efforts in CAR

According to the Department of Defense, between December 12th and December 16th, a total of eight C-17 sorties have been flown between Burundi and Central African Republic as part of efforts to bolster the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) there.  A flight yesterday carried thirty-nine personnel, a 1.5-ton truck, an armored personnel carrier, and six pallets of equipment totaling forty-two tons.  As of the 15th, the US had moved four hundred and thirty-two passengers, twenty-five pallets of equipment, and thirteen Burundian military vehicle in total.

Burundian WZ551 armored personnel carriers and other vehicles wait to be loaded onto a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III on December 10.

Burundian WZ551 armored personnel carriers and other vehicles wait to be loaded onto a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III on December 10 for deployment to CAR.

Another flight was to be flown yesterday and two more were expected to be flown today, which would involve the movement of an additional one hundred and sixty-five personnel.  The initial plan, announced on the 9th, has been to support the deployment of a full battalion of Burundian peacekeepers to CAR, totaling approximately eight hundred and fifty personnel, along with their supporting equipment.  The US would likely remain able and willing to respond to additional requests for support after the airlift of Burundian forces is complete.

On December 10th, President Barack Obama also delegated the Secretary of State to direct the drawdown of up to $60 million in defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense (DoD) and defense services of the DOD to provide assistance to countries and entities engaged in international peacekeeping efforts in CAR.  These countries and entities included France, the African Union, the Republic of the Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda.  In addition, the memorandum noted that such assistance could also be extended to other countries not named that contribute forces to MISCA, allowing such support to be provided to African nations who may join the effort at a later date.  The US State Department had previously announced $40 million in support for MISCA and the French intervention, Operation Sangaris.

France has also been pushing for additional European Union support, suggesting yesterday that the group establish a permanent fund to support such interventions.  The proposal is no doubt in part influenced by any of a number of programs the US has in place, such as the Global Peace Operations Initiative.  Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain, and Belgium have reportedly provided various forms for support for the French effort, but only France has deployed troops to the troubled country.  The UK, for instance, helped to rapidly deploy French forces from Europe to CAR during the initial stages of the intervention.  Operation Sangaris began on the 6th, the day after the UN Security Council approved a UN mandate for MISCA and French forces in CAR.  Violence and instability following a rebel incursion into the capital that overthrew the government in March has led the country closer and closer to a humanitarian crisis.  A senior official with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned yesterday of an impending food crisis, the latest indicator of the dire situation there.