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UN greenlights additional CAR peacekeepers
April 10, 2014, 4:49 pm

France deployed 2,000 troops to the Central African Republic in a bid to end militia fighting there [AP]

France deployed 2,000 troops to the Central African Republic in a bid to end militia fighting there [AP]

After several weeks of delay, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday approved the deployment of 11,800 peacekeepers and police to stabilise the Central African Republic, which has since November been embroiled in ethnic conflict and lawlessness.

Named MINUSCA, the force of 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police members will replace the nearly 2,000 French troops and over 3,000 African troops currently there.

Last week, Chad withdrew its force of 850 soldiers after they were accused of killing 30 civilians in a marketplace in the capital Bangui. Chadian commanders said their soldiers returned fire after being attacked.

The UNSC approval came after France, a former colonial power in Africa (including CAR) tabled a draft resolution which drew attention to numerous reports of human rights violations including, kidnap, rape, torture, and attacks on houses of worship, among others.

The draft also referred to attacks on civilians “in particular but not limited to Muslims”.

Last month, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said 99 per cent of the city’s once 100,000 Muslims have fled the violence which began when the government fell in December.

Her report was backed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees who said that ethnic cleansing may have occurred in other parts of the country.

In a statement published on February 12, Amnesty International said international peacekeeping forces “have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in [CAR].”

But the new UN resolution, which will immediately create a mission in Bangui – the forces will be deployed in September – strongly demands “that all militias and armed groups put aside their arms, cease all forms of violence and destabilising activities immediately and release children from their ranks.”

CAR authorities have welcomed the new UN mandate. Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo Doudou told reporters: “Today the adoption of this resolution authorizing the deployment of MINUSCA is the start of a decisive phase in the process of restoring peace and security, and hence, stabilizing the Central African Republic.”

Source: Agencies