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article imageFrance to send more troops to troubled Central African Republic

By Karen Graham     Nov 27, 2013 in World
The U.N. deputy secretary general is warning that the Central African Republic (CAR) is descending into chaos, and urgent help is needed. Strengthening of the African Union-led forces is called for, turning the crisis into a peacekeeping mission.
There are very real fears today that the crisis in the Central African Republic will turn into a religious and ethnic conflict with far-reaching consequences if allowed to continue. In a response to a U.N. call for international intervention, France is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the embattled country.
On Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on Europe 1 radio said France is sending 1,000 additional troops to CAR, with an expected deployment to last six months. France already has 400 troops in CAR, deployed to protect French citizens and the airport in the capital, Bangui.
Since the start of the conflict, when a Muslim rebel alliance called the Selaka overthrew Christian President, Gen. Francois Bozize, there have been accusations of atrocities from both sides. The list of atrocities ranges from the massacre of whole Christian communities, to rape, pillaging of churches, and the conscription of over 3,500 child soldiers.
To date, out of a population numbering 4.6 million people, over 10 percent have fled their homes. Most schools and hospitals outside the capital have been looted and forced to close. It is not known for sure the number of people who have been killed, because the roads going into the country's rural areas are just too dangerous for travel. At least one-third of the population is without food, clean water or sanitation.
Since taking over the transitional government, the Selaka rules ÔÇťarbitrarily and with complete impunity," according to Human Rights Watch. The continuing fight between the two factions for power, control of territory and just giving "pay-back" for past grievances are what seems to be fueling the conflict, and it is getting worse.
Human-rights violations are growing more numerous, including torture, sexual violence and mass executions. U.N. deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson, fearing another Rhandwa, said, "The CAR is becoming a breeding ground for extremists and armed groups in a region that is already suffering from conflict and instability." Thus the call for the international community to step in to the fray.
File photo: Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) peacekeepers patrol in Bangui  Central Afr...
File photo: Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) peacekeepers patrol in Bangui, Central African Republic, November 27, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Joe Penney
Central African Republic s President Michel Djotodia leaves the presidential palace after speaking w...
Central African Republic's President Michel Djotodia leaves the presidential palace after speaking with civil society members in Bangui, Central African Republic, November 26, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Joe Penney
More about Central african republic, Chaos, deteriorating, Muslims, Christians