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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 24 October, 2014

Gilmore: No Irish troops being made available for CAR mission

EU foreign ministers have agreed to send around 500 troops to the African nation to back up French and African forces.

Eamon Gilmore speaks to the media on his way into the Brussels meeting
Eamon Gilmore speaks to the media on his way into the Brussels meeting

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has said there’s an understanding among the international community that Ireland is “already heavily committed” to peacekeeping efforts overseas, and he’s played down suggestions that the country could make troops available for a mission aimed at restoring order in the Central African Republic.

Several other EU foreign minsters arriving for a meeting in Brussels this morning spoke in favour of the plan to send a rapid deployment force to support French and African forces already on the ground in the impoverished nation.

And shortly after midday, AFP reported that ministers had agreed to the mission. Quoting diplomatic sources, the news wire said that around 500 troops would be sent to back up the existing deployment, which is taking place under a UN mandate.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned the country is in “a crisis of epic proportions” and urged the world “to pull CAR back from the brink of further atrocities”.

‘Unlikely’

Speaking to reporters on his way into today’s meeting in Brussels, Gilmore said it was unlikely that Ireland would participate in that mission “because we are already very heavily committed with UNIFIL in Lebanon and the mission that we sent recently to the Syrian border”.

“I think it is understood among other countries that we’re already very heavily committed in our overseas commitments by our Defence Forces.”

Some 4,400 African troops and 1,600 French soldiers have been deployed to the CAR to try to restore order in the impoverished country that plunged into chaos and sectarian violence following a March 2013 coup.

Ten months of violence have displaced a fifth of the CAR’s population and the sectarian flare-up has killed more than 1,000 people in the past six weeks alone.

This article includes reporting from AFP.

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