European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to send up to 1,000 soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR) to help restore stability to the country, in what is the EU’s first major military operation in six years, diplomatic sources said.
Ministers meeting in Brussels approved a proposal to send a battalion-sized force to CAR, but detailed military plans have yet to be finalised.
However, it is hoped the force will start arriving in the war-torn country by the end of February, with the capital Bangui the main base of operations.
It is not yet clear which EU countries will contribute troops. Estonia has promised soldiers, and Lithuania, Slovenia, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Sweden are among countries considering sending troops, diplomats say.
Large EU countries such as Britain, Germany and Italy have said they will not contribute.
The Central African Republic descended into chaos after a mostly Muslim rebel coalition, Seleka, seized power in March, unleashing a wave of killings and looting that sparked revenge attacks by Christian militia.
More than 1,000 people are believed to have been killed since December alone and nearly one million have been forced from their homes.
France has already dispatched 1,600 troops to the country, a former French colony, while there is also a 4,400-strong contingent of African Union forces in CAR.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-01-20