Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Central African Republic: UN's Amos Calls for More International Troops to CAR

Photo: IRIN
Self-defense militias now accused of carrying out horrific attacks against Muslim civilians.

Bangui — United Nations emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos has wrapped a two-day visit to the Central African Republic. Amos says more must be done to protect civilians who she says "have born the brunt of unspeakable violence."

The message of U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos regarding the Central African Republic is clear. She says, "Despite the good job that the MISCA and Sangaris forces are doing, there are not enough troops on the ground."

A total of about 6,000 French and African Union soldiers are in the C.A.R. It is estimated that up to twice as many troops could be needed to stabilize the country, where chaos and violence have raged for more than a year.

Amos said talks are underway at the United Nations about possibly transforming the African Union MISCA troops into a U.N. peacekeeping force.

France and the AU boosted their contingents in December, after brutal inter-communal violence broke out in the capital, killing about 1,000 people in a matter of days.

Attacks against the country's Muslim minority have since forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee into neighboring countries, crippling the economy.

Valerie Amos spent two days in the C.A.R. as part of a joint United Nations-African Union delegation.

The delegation met with country's interim president, religious leaders, civil society and displaced persons both in Bangui and in the northern town of Bossangoa.

Both the U.N. and the A.U. representatives stressed the importance of rebuilding the country's now all but nonexistent state institutions, in particular the criminal justice system.

African Union political affairs commissioner Aicha L. Abdullahi said the AU will also work with the C.A.R. to launch a dialogue and reconciliation process.

"It's our belief that we cannot have lasting peace if we do not address the issues of mutual respect, love, tolerance and understanding between our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters," he said.

The U.N. says more than 2.6 million people in the C.A.R. need immediate assistance.

Continued insecurity has hampered relief efforts and is keeping the country's approximately 700,000 internally displaced people from returning home.

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InFocus

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Self-defense militias now accused of carrying out horrific attacks against Muslim civilians.

U.N. Secretary-General has called for an additional 3,000 troops and police for the Central African Republic, where sectarian violence has continued unabated. Read more »