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UN chief urges 3,000 more troops for Central African Republic

© Photo: AFP

Text by Sophie PILGRIM

Latest update : 2014-02-27

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community on Thursday to deploy an extra 3,000 troops to Central African Republic, where religious fighting has killed at least 2,000 people and displaced around one million.

Ban’s plea came amid growing fears that the conflict in CAR could spiral into ethnic cleansing.

The European Union is already set to deploy 1,000 troops to join 6,000 African Union (AU) peacekeepers and almost 2,000 French soldiers, who have struggled to stop the fighting, which began after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group seized power a year ago in the majority Christian country.

“The security requirements far exceed the capability of the international troops now deployed,” Ban told the UN Security Council. "We need more."

A further 3,000 troops and police would see a total of 12,000 international forces in CAR.

Ban also proposed that all international forces in CAR be brought under "a coordinated command," with a priority placed on protecting civilians and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid.

He suggested that $38 million in logistical and financial aid be given to the African Union mission in CAR over six months, and that the government receive financial assistance so that it can bring back some of its essential public services, such as police and courts.

UN aid chief Valérie Amos on Thursday backed up Ban's claims after a three-day visit to the country. "There are not enough troops on the ground," Amos told a news conference in Bangui.

‘Lacking coordination’

In an interview with FRANCE 24, the ambassador of neighbouring Chad to the African Union, Cherif Mohammed Zene, said that the problem was not a lack of troops but a lack of coordination between the forces already in place.

“I don’t think the problem is how many soldiers [there are]. The current problem is a lack of coordination between the contingents on the ground. Some of those serving as part of MISCA [the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic] are lacking transportation and communication means. MISCA needs to be strengthened [on the whole],” he said.

"A problem of means, not numbers"

Zene said he thought it would be unlikely that Chad, which has been accused by Human Rights Watch of supporting the Seleka rebels, would be asked to send more troops to the mission in CAR, “considering the number of operations Chad is already involved in”.

(with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-02-20

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