Central African Republic: Ban, African Leaders Meet in Paris to Address Violence in Central African Republic

The top United Nations official is today meeting with African leaders in Paris, France, to discuss the escalating inter-communal violence and worsening humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The discussions follow the two-day Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, hosted by the French Government.

"We are here to convey a message of solidarity and hope: that every woman, every man, and every child in Africa has a peaceful and prosperous future," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told journalists earlier today in the French capital.

He called the summit "very successful" and said the participants' common goal is to overcome the challenges that remain in parts of the continent, including increasing threats of terrorism, extremism, organized crime, drug trafficking and piracy.

The regions focused on during the summit include the Sahel, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region, and Somalia.

Today, a summit on CAR was convened shortly after Mr. Ban's press encounter.

He told journalists that "there is an urgent need to avoid further deterioration" in the country.

Mr. Ban also called for the implementation of the Security Council resolution adopted two days ago authorising the International Support Mission, an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force known by its French acronym MISCA, as well as the deployment of French troops to assist it.

The Council authorized the expanded force for an initial 12-month period, and requests Mr. Ban to set up a trust fund to support MISCA and to support, in coordination with the European Union (EU), the holding of a donors conference that would be organized by the AU.

"I am grateful to all countries contributing soldiers to MISCA, and in particular to France for boosting its military support,"

Mr. Ban said today, commending also the engagement and commitment of the Economic Community of Central African States.

He also praised the French Government for its rapid and effective deployment, noting that the country, which this month holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member Council, has been "instrumental" in mobilizing its support at this critical time.

Close to 700 people had crossed over into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday alone to seek safety, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said.

Since last December, when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks leading to months of violence, nearly 400,000 people have been displaced, with another 69,800 forced into exile in neighbouring countries.

Earlier today in Paris, Mr. Ban met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali. He reaffirmed the importance of national reconciliation and reiterated the UN's solidarity with the people and Government of Mali, according to a readout of the bilateral discussions.

Mr. Ban will leave Paris tomorrow for South Africa, where he will attend the official memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela to be held on Tuesday.

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