29 October 2013

Central African Republic: UNSC Approves 'Protection' Force for Workers in CAR

Photo: Godfrey Byaruhanga/Amnesty International
Jovachi Mongonou, 9, had both legs amputated after he suffered severe shrapnel wounds when Seleka soldiers shelled a church in Bangui in April 2013.

The United Nations Security Council has approved the dispatch of a 250-member force to the Central African Republic to protect U.N. workers in that increasingly chaotic nation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked for the special force last week. The 15-member Security Council gave its approval in a vote Tuesday.

Ban said the 250-member force will be taken from another U.N. force and will be sent to Bangui, the C.A.R. capital. A similar force was sent to protect U.N. staff in Iraq at the height of its sectarian strife after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

This deployment could later be increased to 560 troops, with some of them deployed to other parts of the Central African Republic.

The landlocked nation has been in chaos since Seleka rebels toppled President Francois Bozize in March.

A top U.N. humanitarian official who has just been to the country described events there as "chaotic," with more than half the 4.6 million population facing what he called "dire needs." John Ging, operational director for the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said Tuesday that "protection" is the number one problem in the C.A.R.

He said tens of thousands of people have sought shelter in churches, mosques and community centers. Ging said "indescribable" atrocities are being committed against civilians by armed groups. He said the scale of suffering is among the worst in the world and getting worse.

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