The Central African Republic (CAR) has commended Rwanda for screening peacekeepers and extending the screening to citizens in the CAR, which has reported nine confirmed COVID-19 cases. Testing for the most recent case, announced on April 2, was carried out by a medical team from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre. Provisions were furnished by the Rwanda Defense Force and the Rwandan government to peacekeepers who are part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
Why It Matters
Actions like these help position Rwanda as a regional leader in Central Africa, while also utilizing military forces for more humanitarian purposes, building trust among the local population. The CAR is still largely divided among regional warlords, with national government authority extending barely beyond the capital of Bangui. The mutual threat of COVID-19 could open up a reconciliation path for the country, bringing warring groups together under the auspices of MINUSCA as they carry out viral screenings and treatment campaigns. Rwanda’s leading role could also help pull CAR away from its dependency on Russia, which has furnished soldiers and military aid to fight against rebels, and installed a Russian national, Valery Zakharov, as President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s national security adviser.