France to double troop numbers in Central African Republic
CAR/select defence council – Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
Paris, 5 December 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
The situation in the Central African Republic has become alarming and even frightening. Massacres – even in hospitals – are continuing there even as we speak. Each day, women and children are being raped and thousands of displaced persons are seeking refuge.
In view of this general state of chaos, the Security Council has just unanimously adopted a resolution providing a mandate for an African force to provide security and restore stability in the Central African Republic and protect the population.
France will support this operation. It is our duty: the duty to provide assistance and solidarity to a small country, the Central African Republic, which is very far from here – a country that is our friend, the poorest country in the world, a country that is calling on us for help.
Given the urgency, I have decided to act immediately, i.e. this evening, in coordination with the Africans and with support from our European partners. Already 600 French troops are on the ground. That force will be doubled in a few days, if not hours.
France’s only objective is to save human lives. I want every bit of information to be made available, and that is why the government will provide full explanations to Parliament as from next week.
A year ago, in Mali, France was called upon to combat a terrorist invasion. We succeeded. Today, in very different circumstances, France is needed to prevent a humanitarian disaster. We will be there.
I have the utmost confidence in our soldiers to carry out this operation. I know their sense of duty, their consummate professionalism. This intervention will be swift; it is not set to last. And I am sure of its success.
I will be reporting back to the French on this matter regularly.