News / Africa

UN Chief: 3,000 More Troops, Police Needed for CAR

Angry young men complain to French soldiers on patrol in the pro-Christian area of Bangui February 15, 2014
Angry young men complain to French soldiers on patrol in the pro-Christian area of Bangui February 15, 2014
Margaret Besheer
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for an additional 3,000 troops and police for the Central African Republic, where sectarian violence has continued unabated. 

The secretary-general said given the "scale and geographic breadth" of the bloodshed, the security requirements exceed the capabilities of the nearly 6,000 African and 2,000 French forces on the ground.

Briefing the Security Council, he called for the rapid reinforcement of existing forces with 3,000 new troops and police, saying they should deploy quickly - within days or weeks - to stem the growing inter-communal violence.

"Almost one million people have been displaced, with many homes burned to the ground with the purpose of preventing their return.  Whole populations are being moved,” Ban said, adding that  “A creeping de facto partition of the country is setting in, with Muslims in one part and Christians in another.  This separation is laying the seeds of conflict and instability for years, maybe generations, to come," he said.

Ban said a U.N. Commission of Inquiry will arrive next week in the country to investigate reported human rights violations.

He offered a six-point plan for protecting civilians and restoring law and order.  It includes provisions for logistical and financial support to the African troops; assistance for the government so it can function; acceleration of the political and reconciliation process, and an appeal for humanitarian funding.

Ban said all international troops in the CAR should be brought under a coordinated command.  He said this would help in the delivery of humanitarian aid and prepare the ground for the handover to a U.N. peacekeeping force, which he recommends.

Asked how long it might take to transfer the current African force into a U.N. peacekeeping force, French Ambassador Gérard Araud speculated around six months; but, he cautioned that the council has yet to authorize such a mission.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui told the Security Council that some 4,000 troops are being deployed beyond the CAR capital and throughout the countryside.  He said the primary security threat is from the mainly Christian anti-Balaka militias who are attacking Muslims.  He said the African and French troops are taking measures to neutralize the group.

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