Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 22, 2022
Thank you, Madam President. I’d like to start by thanking SRSG Ndiaye, the AU Special Representative Matondo, and Executive Director for the ICGLR Caholo for your comprehensive remarks. SRSG Ndiaye, as your time comes to an end at the helm of MINUSCA, we commend you for your leadership over the past three years and we wish you well in your next chapter, and we look forward to working with your successor to further strengthen and support MINUSCA in the future. I also welcome the participation of the Foreign Minister of Central African Republic. Madam Foreign Minister, I visited Central African Republic several times in my former position as Assistant Secretary for Africa. I am saddened that the situation in Central African Republic continues not to significantly improve, but I do look forward to working with you and your government toward a peaceful solution to the situation in CAR in the future.
Today I would like to address three aspects of the situation in the Central African Republic: the work and safety of MINUSCA, the threat that Wagner forces pose to human rights in CAR, and progress toward a political solution to the conflict.
First, let me start by saying thank you, to the women and men of MINUSCA, and to the troop- and police-contributing countries for their commitment to peace in the Central African Republic. I know that you have been under attack – both physically and with disinformation – and I condemn those attacks in the strongest terms. MINUSCA has done a significant job attempting to restore security to CAR. Your increased operations, as the Secretary-General’s report notes, have ousted armed groups in Boyo, as well as in other areas.
But colleagues, we must remain firm in supporting the peacekeepers we have collectively sent into harm’s way and call out those who are willing to harm them, and to hold those individuals and those entities accountable. In particular, we must address the disturbing news from the Secretary-General’s report that the Central African Armed Forces, working with the Kremlin-supported Wagner Group, perpetrated 17 violations of MINUSCA’s Status of Forces Agreement in the past four months. This is simply unacceptable. Together, as a Council, we must call on the Central African Republic and the Wagner Group to stop threatening and obstructing MINUSCA personnel and their work.
Which leads me to my second point: We must address and take on the threat to human rights that the Wagner forces pose. National defense forces and Wagner contractors – referred to as “other security personnel” in the report – perpetrated over 40 percent of all violations documented during the last reporting period. And for that reason, we find it hard to even think about lifting an arms embargo where arms could be used against innocent citizens. In particular, credible sources have reported Wagner forces in the town of Aigbado massacred more than 30 unarmed civilians on January 16 and 17, and that included over 20 – 20 – execution-style killings. These forces are committing horrific acts and trampling over the human rights we have fought so hard to preserve and for the people of CAR who deserve to have their human rights respected.
We call upon the Central African Republic government to cooperate fully with MINUSCA and other partners to investigate all allegations transparently and hold accountable those responsible for these heinous acts. The initial steps taken by the Special Commission of Inquiry, led by the Central African Republic’s Minister of Justice, are positive. Now is the time to follow through on the investigations.
We are deeply concerned by reports that FACA and Wagner Group forces continue to target predominantly Muslim communities in their military operations. This poses grave risks to the country’s delicate social fabric, and it contributes to further destabilization.
Which leads me to my third and final point: there is no military solution to the crisis in the Central African Republic. This point was made aptly by the SRSG. The only durable way forward is through full implementation of the 2019 peace agreement, justice for victims, and inclusive political dialogue. To that end, we call upon the Central African Republic government to abide by its October 15 ceasefire and immediately stand up and enforce a ceasefire monitoring mechanism. We commend the Central African Republic government for its decision to lift immunity for the political opposition, and we welcome further progress toward the organization of an inclusive Republican Dialogue process.
To further prepare for local elections in September, we call on the Central African Republic government to launch and staff the Cadre de Concertation and to implement the April 2020 decentralization law. This is an opportunity for the newly appointed Prime Minister, Félix Moloua, whom I want to congratulate here today.
The United States remains a committed partner of the Central African Republic and we look forward to working with you to realize the promise of the APPR, and the Republican Dialogue, and the country’s first local elections in 34 years.
Thank you very much.