Germany has promised strife-torn Central African Republic ten million euros ($14 million) in humanitarian aid to help fight hunger and improve public health in the country, which is one of the world's poorest.
The pledge was made by Berlin's development aid minister Gerd Müller during a visit to the capital Bangui. DW spoke to the minister while he was there.
DW: Civil war has been raging in the Central African Republic for months. What can German development aid hope to achieve here?
Gerd Müller: I made a conscious decision to come here with my French counterpart Pascal Canfin, because we wanted to make a positive gesture. We want to support Germany's World Hunger Aid agency (Deutsche Welthungerhilfe) and the World Food Program and launch a food security project. We cannot avoid this problem. Public opinion needs to be made aware of the misery and deprivation in the Central African Republic. But we are in a position to help – by providing the basic essentials, food and medical aid, and assistance with water supplies. We will be discussing concrete projects in this context.
Is this intended as a political gesture in the wake of debate about Germany assuming more responsibility in the international arena?
Germany is taking on more responsibility – that is the gesture. Previously, we were not engaged in development work in the Central African Republic. That has changed with effect from today. We will launch several projects so we can begin providing help straight away. We will also be considering cooperation in the medium and long term.
Was it a mistake not being involved in development aid in the Central African Republic for such a long time?
There are problems in many parts of the world – for example, the problems facing Syrian or Congolese refugees. Globally, the plight of refugees poses one of the biggest challenges. Day in, day out, it is a matter of life or death. That's why emergency relief aid will be one of my top priorities when shaping German development policy.
The security situation in the Central African Republic continues to give cause for concern. The EU has been trying in vain for weeks to assemble a military mission. How do you explain to people in the Central African Republic why this is taking so long?
Obviously we have to address the question as to how the country can be brought back from the brink of civil war. That would certainly involve a military component. A blue helmets mission has already been approved and the EU is discussing implementation.
Gerd Müller was appointed Germany's minister for economic cooperation and development in December 2013. His visit to Bangui was the first ever undertaken by a German government minister to the Central African Republic.
Interview: Jan-Philip Scholz and Adrian Kriesch