‘Pointless’ or just not enough of a priority?

Lord McConnell

If the TV show Pointless asked contestants to name countries with UN peacekeeping missions then the Central African Republic would almost certainly be a ‘pointless’ answer: one that no-one was able to guess. Yet, in this country with a population smaller than Scotland (4.6 million) thousands were murdered, raped and mutilated at the end of last year in a conflict fuelled by complex tensions that left over half a million people displaced from their homes.

Supported by Tearfund, the humanitarian NGO, Baroness Elizabeth Berridge and I are determined to keep the good and long suffering people of the Central African Republic in the public eye. We have travelled to Bangui, the capital, just two weeks after the new UN peacekeeping force begins its mission. They are replacing an African Union peacekeeping force supported by France and European Union who have done much to stabilise the country since 2013.

We will not be able to travel far outside the capital as the roads infrastructure will not support that during a short four day visit, and the security situation is still volatile. But we will visit Government Ministers, rural agriculture projects, international organisations and camps for those most affected by the horrific violence.

Why should we care, I sense some readers asking already. What can we do?

Well the humanitarian situation should motivate us to do what we can. The conflict last year, and previous outbreaks of extreme violence and human rights abuses, are horrific. Even before the crisis, CAR has the 3rd worst maternal death rate in the world, and the 6th worst child mortality. It has the lowest literacy in the region, and the highest prevalence of HIV/Aids. As UNICEF told us yesterday, the Central African Republic is truly one of the worst places in the world for children. And in 2014 surely we can help change this.

But furthermore, this may be an overlooked French speaking country in which there is little direct UK interest, but it is right at the heart of Africa and this particular heart is on life support.

Neighbours include Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Congo, the DRC and Cameroon. Instability is rife. Kony and the Lords Resistance Army roam the south-east. Blood diamonds and other minerals generate and pay for armed groups. And even Boko Haram are in the neighbourhood.

The new UN mission will integrate more closely than ever before the essential military and police work of peacekeeping with the important building blocks of peace-building: a legal system folk can trust, local security forces who can do their job, reliable elections, and infrastructure to rebuild the economy and provide basic services. The UK will not be a main player on the ground, although individual officers and diplomats, and of course UK charities, will play their part. But we are at the centre of decision making in the UN, the EU and other places.

So yet again we can help ensure the global community puts people first, and protects those who are vulnerable. And we can help ensure that effort also supports the next generation here to have a functioning state, a life without fear, a life that is healthier and better educated and that lasts longer that would have otherwise been the case.

That would not be pointless.


5 comments for “‘Pointless’ or just not enough of a priority?

  1. Liz grant
    04/10/2014 at 7:25 am

    Such an important message to us all. We need to be more informed if what is happening and together work out systems whereby we can coordinate support to help improve healthcare. I continue to be scared by our ability to troubleshoot in big business and our complete failure to be able to take coordinated or indeed any actions where people are despair eatery longing, praying, hoping for some help. Thank you jack for highlighting CAR. How can we help prioritise this situation. Can pointless the TV show work with some of us on a serious show to inform all if us on CAR and many other issues that we simply as a public don’t know about. Liz Grant

    • MilesJSD
      08/10/2014 at 8:05 pm

      The C.A.R. is but one of hundreds of Slippery Slopes Out-of-Control or already Crashed,

      all due to culpable and arguably deliberate Malfeasances –

      for instance the very few rich, powerful, and real-life-struggle-removed, multi-billionaire oligarchs deliberately stoking-up the Human Population to be enormously beyond the maximum number that Earth’s Lifesupports and Human Civilisation together can longest-term, probably even short-term, support.

      Flip through Jessica Williams’s “50 Facts That Should Change The World” – but havn’t –
      and you’ll see what this means,
      in terms of “waste-not-want-not” Life-Supportively planning strategicly
      maybe thousands, hundreds-of-thousands, of years ahead …

  2. Natalie
    04/10/2014 at 3:50 pm

    As a former UN volunteer in South Sudan, I am so glad to hear that you are working to raise the profile of the Central African Republic. Last year in Juba I witnessed one of the most effective foot patrols ever undertaken in the country led by a Royal Marine. His wise and experienced leadership made a huge difference by enabling the mission to reach and assist civilians who had fled fighting into the bush in enormously difficult conditions. I would urge you to encourage the deployment even of small numbers of UK military or police personnel as advisors to the CAR and to support funding for UK humanitarian and human rights experts to work with the mission. We certainly can contribute something.

  3. MilesJSD
    06/10/2014 at 2:57 pm

    ‘Though a little bit ‘wordy’, there is a very simple “Snapshot” which fits the Case here:

    Tradition, Economic-Business, and the Law requires our bottom-line to be
    “Slippery Slopes of Increasing Expertises, Competitivities, and Enforcement Powers”
    ‘Wisely’ insisting:
    “Wait ’til the need and the disagreement go competitively out of control, down an increasingly steep and slippery slope, until they crash at the bottom: then we’ll be fully justified to urgently “Call out Crisis Management”.


    Early and Ongoingly Friendly Method III Cooperative Problem Solving”:- –

    Method III takes much more time, than Methods I and II which still dominate both ‘Happy-Homestead’ and ‘Bloody-Battlefield’.

    More of us, from the uppermost to the lowestmost, really need to be 24/7 motivated to establish
    “First Resort Win-Win-Win {Method III} Needs & Affordable-Hows Recognition and Friendly Cooperative Problem Solving thereto”.
    Realise that
    “It took all sorts to make a world”
    “It’s taking only a very few to Break this world”
    “Therefore it’ll take even more ‘sorts’ to ‘remake’ the world”.

  4. maude elwes
    07/10/2014 at 10:55 am

    Oh, how I, and so many voters, wish we had governments, as well as their off shoots on our stipends, so very interested in the mess they have created with ‘our’ tax money right here in the UK. Business and big corporations have their own finance enabling them to invest in the thrid world, as they are the ones who exploit it, without our hand outs. And so, they, not us, must be ‘forced’ to spend their money in the regions they work with, rather than having it sitting off shore.

    That way our tax payers could get what they are being strung along to pay for elsewhere, rather than find all their hard earned goes on war machines and more big business who exploit those right here.

    The voter simply must rid itself of unelected individuals filling the benches of parliament and next year, elect those who do not belong to any party of the big three, or, adopt their dogma. As now we clearly see we are consistantly taken along paths outside our domain, where those funds we pay into, for our survival, were unintended to go. Our people right here in the UK need food, homes, hospitals and schools and we are endlessly taken for cash cows to accommodate the failings of big corporations. Why? Could there be some kind of pay off for those who are in on this game?

    Lobbyists should be limited to a handful and any government official or parliamentarian who has a hand in the allocation of the peoples revenue must be excluded from areas where they can benefit any company or financier who is employing them on any level. Including holding any shares in a particular concern they can benefit by some kind of insider deal. Perhaps then our streets can be free of starving sleepers and real jobs returned to our citizens to benefit their lives. Our hospitals can be manned by suitable individuals to take care of them adequately and our schools can have literate teachers who have a suitable vocabulary to pass on. Rather those the waifs and strays we harbout now.

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