Finland to send special troops to Central African Republic

Minister of Defence Carl Haglund Photo: Bing.Com

Minister of Defence Carl Haglund
Photo: Bing.Com

Roughly twenty Finnish special troops will take part in the European Union’s crisis management operation in the Central African Republic, Carl Haglund (SFP), Finland’s Minister of Defence, revealed while meeting his European counterparts in Athens, Greece, on Friday.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Erkki Tuomioja (SDP), had previously estimated that Finland could deploy as many as one hundred troops to safeguard stability in the violence-ridden country.

The majority of the Finnish troops to be deployed are expected to participate in mine clearance and explosives management operations, and to provide medical support. “In addition, a couple of staff officers could be sent to the operational headquarters in Greece or to the local offices in Central Africa,” Haglund added.

The plan is to deploy the troops in April.

“The number of special troops corresponds with the demands of the command of the operation. Within the time-frame, it’s not realistic to put together a greater force of for example 100—150 troops,” Haglund explains.

The union’s defence ministers estimate that altogether a battalion of 1,000—1,500 troops will take part in the crisis management operation in the Central African Republic, which was sanctioned by the European Union in January.

Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, viewed on Thursday that a minimum of 3,000 soldiers are needed to safeguard stability, to protect the civilian populations and to guarantee the distribution of humanitarian aid in the country torn by violence. Haglund similarly acknowledges that the situation in the country is extremely serious.

In Finland, the final decision on the deployment will be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy and President Sauli Niinistö in a meeting scheduled for this week. The operation also requires the approval of the Parliament.

Haglund highlights that the force of roughly twenty troops can be delivered to the Central African Republic by aircraft. “Thereby, the timetable is shorter. Delivering a greater force and equipment first by sea to Cameroon and thereon by land to the Central African Republic would be extremely difficult,” he points out.

 HELSINGIN SANOMAT

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