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EU to deploy troops to CAR

The European Union on Wednesday drew up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to Central African Republic to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops by the end of April.

Gen. Philippe Ponties, Head of EU military operation in the CAR, said in Paris that this became imperative because there was a link between the problems facing the CAR force and the political crisis in Ukraine.

“Given the humanitarian and security situation in CAR, it is urgent that we deploy to support the African Union and French mission and to ease the humanitarian task,” he said.

This was coming after France accused the EU of shirking its responsibility for international security after a plan to send up to 1,000 troops to Central African Republic this week seemed set to collapse.

Ponties said so far two brigades of about 300 soldiers as well as Special Forces and police units had been committed to the EUFOR mission.

He stressed that the mission still lacked around 100 men and key logistical support before it could be deployed.

“The launch still needs logistical support of about 100 soldiers, ranging from medical to transport needs,” he said.

Ponties said France, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Spain had agreed to contribute to the mission.

“This will be a transition mission that will last six months which would be a bridge between the current situation and a multinational force that should be strengthened by year end,” he added.

Ponties said the goal of the EU force would be to provide security in the capital, Bangui, and at Bangui airport where about 70,000 people who fled the violence were living in dire conditions.

He said the EU had so far held four conferences at which member states as well as some countries outside the 28-nation bloc offered troops and equipment for the operation.

Ponties said failure to send the force to Africa would be an embarrassment for the EU which has been trying to burnish its credentials as a security organisation, and a setback for France which has sought more European support for its efforts in CAR.

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