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UN Approves New Peacekeeping Force for CAR

The U.N. Security Council has approved an expanded peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic.

The 15-nation Council unanimously approved a U.N.-led force of 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police.

The force will become operational in September and replace an African Union peacekeeping mission.

The 6,000 African soldiers and 2,000 French troops have been unable to contain inter-religious violence that has killed thousands of people and forced one million from their homes.

Thursday's resolution says the U.N. force should incorporate as many troops as possible from the AU mission, known as MISCA.

Human Rights Watch says "months have been wasted," but the resolution provides for a strong force that can protect civilians and help establish rule of law.



It called on the existing forces to protect the C.A.R.'s Muslim minority, many of whom have fled their communities to escape attacks by largely Christian anti-balaka militias.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power was in the C.A.R. Wednesday, and told MISCA troops the prospects for the U.N. force "will be made more bright or more daunting" by their actions between now and then.

The U.N. refugee agency reported this week it had received just 20 percent of the $112 million it needs this year for its response to the crisis in the Central African Republic.

The crisis has forced more than 326,000 refugees to flee to neighboring countries and has displaced more than 630,000 people within the C.A.R. Both of those numbers skyrocketed in December along with a spike in violence.

On Wednesday, local authorities and witnesses told VOA at least 30 people were killed when anti-balaka militants launched an attack in the central town of Dekoa. Most of the victims of Tuesday's attack were civilians.

Local authorities and witnesses say the anti-balaka fighters apparently mistook civilians for the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Anti-balaka militias formed last year in response to a wave of killing and looting, mostly by Seleka forces.

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