The Portuguese military of the 4th National Force Detached in the Central African Republic (RCA) return to Portugal on Monday, after six months of the mission, with more than 70 hours of “high intensity” fighting with armed groups.
Portugal has been present at the RCA since early 2017 within the framework of the United Nations Integrated Multidimensional Mission for Stabilization in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), whose 2nd commander is Major-General of the Army Marco Serronha.
In MINUSCA is the 4th Outstanding National Force, composed of 180 military personnel (177 from the Army and three from the Air Force), as Rapid Reaction Force. Six other soldiers of the Portuguese Army are integrated into the command of the mission.
The force that returns to Portugal on Monday is composed mainly by Parachutists of the 2nd Parachute Infantry Battalion of Aveiro, and the force that departs, also on Monday, is composed mostly by Commands.
“Of the commitment of the Outstanding National Force that is now returning, two major military operations carried out under the aegis of the United Nations stand out, involving the projection of the Portuguese military for 65 days to Bambari, a region located 400 kilometers capital Bangui, “the General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMGFA) said in a statement.
Of the operations carried out, there were eleven actions of contact with armed groups, five of which originated in “planned combat actions and carried out by the Portuguese blue helmets“, to protect innocent civilians, as well as to repel the armed groups of the city of Bambari.
“The remaining incidents were the result of reactions to flagellations or ambushes. In the end, more than 70 hours were counted in high-intensity combat actions,” the statement added.
On Monday, the Fifth National Outreach Force will leave for the RCA, which will also be the MINUSCA Rapid Reaction Force in the country, with a mission to support peace in any region of the country, with the objective of contributing to the stabilization, security and control of territory.
The RCA fell into chaos and violence in 2013 after the overthrow of former President François Bozizé by armed groups in Séléka, sparking opposition from other militias grouped under the anti-Balaka name.
The conflict in this country, the size of France and a population that is less than half the Portuguese (4.6 million), has already caused 700,000 displaced and 570,000 refugees and has placed 2.5 million people in need of humanitarian aid.
The Government controls about a fifth of the territory. The rest is divided by more than 15 militias seeking to gain money through kidnapping, extortion, blockade of communication routes, mineral resources (diamonds and gold, among others), cattle theft and slaughter of elephants for sale of ivory.
On February 6, a peace agreement between the Government and 14 militias was signed in Bangui.