Uganda to send troops to Central African Republic for U.N. mission

by Samuel Okiror

KAMPALA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan military was prepared to send troops to a U.N. mission in the volatile Central African Republic (CAR), a top military official said here Tuesday.

Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala told reporters the Uganda People's Defense Force was ready to contribute to the 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping operation to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian access in the war-torn country.

Uganda already has more than 4,000 troops in CAR pursuing the LRA, whose leader, Joseph Kony, and four other top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"We would have no problem if our forces are to be re-hutted to join the U.N. mission in Central Africa Republic. It would actually do us a lot of good because it will reduce the expenses which we are incurring in maintaining the forces there and facilitating that operation," Katumba said.

"So it would be good if we get re-hutted into the U.N. mission but still stay focused on fighting and looking for the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army rebels)," he said

Uganda Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa told French Radio France International (RFI) last week the East African country had accepted a request to send the troops to CAR.

Deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation and ongoing human rights abuses in CAR, the U.N. Security Council on April 10 approved the establishment of the 12,000-strong Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), with a mandate until April 30, 2015.

The new mission will take over the responsibilities of the African Union-led International Support Mission (MISCA) from Sept. 15, 2014.

The force will initially comprise up to 10,000 military personnel, including 240 military observers and 200 staff officers, as well as 1,800 police personnel, including a 1,400-strong police unit, 400 individual police officers, and 20 corrections officers.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has repeatedly called for an immediate end to the killings, targeted attacks and other atrocious human rights violations that continue with total impunity.

The crisis that began in December 2012 has left thousands of people dead, and 2.2 million, about half the CAR population, in need of aid. More than 650,000 people are still internally displaced, and more than 290,000 have fled to neighboring countries.