ERR in CAR: Only Enough Peacekeepers for the Capital (1)
ERR correspondent Tarmo Meiberg was in the Central African Republic recently visiting Estonian troops and said there are currently only enough foreign soldiers to patrol the streets of the capital city, Bangui.
He told ETV's “Välisilm” program on Monday that there are 10,000 international soldiers on the ground, in the 4.5 million population country.
“They patrol to protect the locals and help keep order. The locals we spoke to said the presence of Estonian troops is very good, but more of them are needed,” Maiberg said, speaking about the 50 Estonian soldiers who were among the first to arrive as part of a 500-strong EU mission.
Besides military threats, malaria is rampant and the climate is something most Estonians are not used to, Maiberg said.
He said the interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, is the head of a state that only exists on paper and the number killed in fighting between Muslim extremists and a Christian movement is unclear, but thought to be around 40,000 to 50,000.
“It is very difficult to say how many people have died in the fighting in the last year as many of the killings take place in areas which are so remote and without telephone networks that we actually don't know about them, and we have to go out there to document them,” Peter Bouckaert, an expert with Human Rights Watch, said.
French troops stationed in the capital do conduct smaller operations outside of the capital, but they do not have enough manpower for larger operations. A UN force is set to arrive in September, which would move to areas outside Bangui.