World News

UN Refugee Chief: Western CAR 'Cleansed' of Muslims

United Nations refugee chief Antonio Guterres says the western part of Central African Republic has been "cleansed" of most Muslims, as he and others plead for help from the Security Council.

Guterres told the Council Thursday that no visit he has made in the last eight years as high commissioner has caused him more anguish than C.A.R. He said the barbarity, brutality and inhumanity is shocking.

The Council is considering whether to send a 12,000-member peacekeeping force to C.A.R., where fighting between Muslim and Christian militias has killed numerous civilians and left hundreds of thousands homeless and fleeing for their lives.

C.A.R. Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo-Doudou said his government will "roll out the red carpet" for a U.N. force. He told the Council that C.A.R's survival depends on it.

French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said he will introduce a resolution on peacekeepers in the coming weeks, and he predicts its approval. But he said he expects tough talks on the cost of such a force.

Sixteen-hundred French soldiers already are in C.A.R., along with 6,000 African Union forces.

Chaos erupted in C.A.R. last year when Muslim rebels toppled the government. The rebels looted, raped and murdered civilians, giving rise to an equally brutal Christian militia who have attacked Muslim civilians.

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