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November 21, 2013

France: Central African Republic on 'Verge of Genocide'

by VOA News

France says the Central African Republic is "on the verge of genocide," and that the U.N. may allow French and African troops to intervene.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke on France 2 television Thursday, after weeks of reports about fighting, looting and lawlessness across much of the CAR.

He said France, the CAR's neighbors and the international community are concerned about the unrest, and that the U.N. is considering a resolution that authorizes French and African forces to take action.

The CAR sank into chaos after the Seleka rebel coalition overthrew President Francois Bozize in March.  The unrest has displaced about 400,000 people internally and created a dire humanitarian situation that U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon says has affected all of the country's 4.6 million people.

Some of the recent violence appears religious-based, with both churches and mosques being the target of attacks.

The African Union is set to take charge of an existing peacekeeping force next month.  The force is due to expand from 2,500 to 3,500 soldiers.  

But human rights groups and U.N. humanitarian officials have called for stronger  action.

On Wednesday, the United States said it would send $40 million to help stabilize the CAR.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the money would provide peacekeepers with logistical support, non-lethal equipment and training.

Kerry highlighted the lack of an effective government in the CAR, saying there is "no evidence" the country's transitional authority is capable of ending the violence, particularly rights abuses committed by Seleka rebels.