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CAR – UN Begs for UPDF Troops

As fighting rages in the Central African Republic, the United Nations has asked Uganda to contribute troops to the 12,000-g UN peacekeeping mission to stabilise the country.

For more than a year now, the interim CAR government has been locked in conflict with the Seleka and anti-Seleka militias. Each group is fighting to take control of the country, following the overthrow of the legitimate government. The UN request for Ugandan troops is contained in the Defence ministerial policy statement for the financial year 20142015.

The statement, which contains a breakdown of the ministry’s budget, was recently submitted to Parliament for approval by Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga.

“Violence in Central African Republic has worsened and violence has since taken sectarian religious lines,” Dr Kiyonga wrote in the statement.

According to the statement, the UN has formally requested Uganda to contribute troops, although no final agreement has been reached.

“The UN has requested Uganda to join the United Nations Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission for Central African Republic (CAR), the MINUSCA. In the event that [an] agreement is reached to answer this call, we shall ensure that our mission against LRA is harmonized with the new responsibility. Joining MINUSCA would enable the Ugandan contingent to receive logistical and other support from the UN,” he wrote.

The request follows an April 2014 UN vote that authorized the deployment of a 12,000-g peace mission to CAR. The UN mission is expected to deploy in September this year. Uganda has a thin force in CAR, mainly to hunt down the elusive rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Already, there are 6,000 troops of the African Union’s International Support Mission (MISCA), as well as 2,000 French troops.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, a year ago, and the overthrow of the legitimate government in CAR by Seleka rebels, the country has remained volatile. If an agreement is reached, Ugandan troops are expected to join other African countries that have contributed troops to stabilise CAR. Uganda has troops in Somalia, under the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom), and in South Sudan.

The ministerial statement further indicates that instabilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, CAR and South Sudan continue to prolong the existence of armed groups such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and LRA, which pose a security threat not only to Uganda but to the region as well. Kiyonga reveals that the LRA remains active in CAR.

“For instance, between January 2013 and June 2014, 23 LRA fighters, including two commanders, were killed in action, while three LRA fighters were arrested, 24 surrendered and 34 abductees rescued,” he says in the statement.

“The ADF command structure and supply lines remain intact and, therefore, still capable of causing terrorist damage.”

Recruitment:

According to the policy statement, Defence plans to spend Shs 1.1 trillion. Shs 388bn will be spent on wages and Shs 18.5bn on feeding troops on military missions. The ministry wants the food budget enhanced by Shs 32.5bn so that troops are adequately fed.

“An effective system will be put in place to ensure sustained supply of mukene (silver fish) and cabbages on the troops’ menu,” he said.

The army, according to the statement, plans to recruit 3,000 Ugandans into the force this year, with a huge emphasis on healthcare workers.

“Health workers to be recruited will mainly be dispensers, clinical officers, public health officers and midwives. The recruits will be trained in Kaweweta, in Nakaseke. This is intended to improve health service delivery in the force.”

The ministry also plans to construct a national military referral hospital. They say the army has a lot of unsettled dues from cooperating hospitals such as Mulago and Nakasero, due to underfunding.

On South Sudan, the policy statement notes that although Uganda deployed troops to intervene in the conflict, the ultimate solution leans towards political, and not military, means. Kiyonga says Uganda will only withdraw from South Sudan after Igad partner states raise the required force to intervene in the conflict.

Source : The Observer

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