UN Security Council Authorises EU Troops to CAR - The New Indian Express

UN Security Council Authorises EU Troops to CAR

Published: 29th January 2014 11:46 AM

Last Updated: 29th January 2014 11:46 AM

The UN Security Council has unanimously authorised the deployment of a European Union force to the Central African Republic to bolster French and African troops who are trying to quell sectarian violence that the United Nations has warned could escalate into genocide.  

The council also approved yesterday financial sanctions against individuals who have committed human rights abuses, threaten peace and a political transition process and violate an arms embargo imposed earlier on the country.    

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said the EU troops will be deployed to guard the airport in the capital, Bangui, where 100,000 people have taken refuge, mostly living on the tarmac.   

Araud said that will free up French troops to move beyond the airport and take up security operations in Bangui and beyond.          

The EU mission likely will comprise 500 to 600 troops. It remains unclear which countries will contribute. Thomas Mayr-Harting, the head of the EU delegation to the United Nations, said the EU forces would be on the ground in CAR within weeks but could not provide a specific timeframe.  

"We are starting to stabilise the situation, but it's still very fragile," Araud said. "We really need the arrival of the European forces."   

France has sent 1,600 troops to bolster some 4,600 overwhelmed African peacekeepers, but few have reached the hot spots farther north.        

More than 1,000 people have been killed and nearly 1 million forced from their homes since December in violence pitting Christians and Muslims, militias and civilians.     

The mostly Muslim rebels, known as Seleka, came from the country's far north in March 2013 to overthrow the president.

The situation has stabilised somewhat since rebel-turned-president Michel Djotodia surrendered power amid mounting international condemnation of his inability to stop sectarian bloodshed.            

A new interim civilian government has pledged to halt the violence and attempt to organise elections by February 2015.        

Yesterday, thousands of jubilant residents took to the streets of Bangui to celebrate after peacekeepers escorted dozens more rebels from military bases. But sectarian tensions remain high, and the UN has warned that the exodus of the Seleka has left Muslim civilians vulnerable to retaliatory attacks by Christian militiamen.          

EU foreign ministers approved the deployment of a joint military force to CAR last week. The Security Council approved the mission for an initial mandate of six months and authorised it to use force.       

Araud said he believes a UN peacekeeping mission must eventually be sent to the Central Africa Republic. He said the UN officials estimate that 10,000 troops are need to secure the vast country, and he said only the United Nations can provide the expertise and resource to help rebuild the government.

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