Members of the UN Security Council, including France, the US and UK must throw their full weight behind proposals to tackle the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), said Amnesty International.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is expected to present his assessment report on the possible transformation of the African-led peacekeeping force in CAR into a UN peacekeeping mission before 5 March.
"It is urgent that the Security Council authorizes this UN peacekeeping operation. They must be given a robust mandate to protect civilians," said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director Research and Advocacy.
Amnesty International's successive missions to CAR have revealed how the African led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) is under-resourced and ill equipped. Its poor coordination with French troops (Sangari's) has failed to end the killings of civilians and the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim community from large parts of the country.
"Current efforts to tackle the crisis are far from adequate and the new UN mission must have the capability to tackle this crisis," said Belay.
"We witnessed peacekeeping soldiers being deployed to areas where they had no idea of what was going on, or even where they were. Their morale was low, their equipment poor, and many complained they have not been paid for months."
International promises to finance MISCA have yet to be fully met.
"Much of the money pledged to strengthen MISCA has not come through and there is an atmosphere of passing the buck in many of the international institutions. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people continue to be internally displaced and thousands of Muslims are struggling to leave the country fearing for their lives."
"The Security Council must take decisive action. This is a matter of the greatest urgency - every day counts. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering. Saving people's lives must prevail over politics," said Belay.
The UN Secretary General presented a six-point initiative to the UNSC last week designed to strengthen existing operations. It includes a rapid reinforcement of the MISCA and French contingents with at least 3,000 more troops and police with a coordinated command and essential logistical and financial support for the African troops. It also proposes plans to improve the capacity of government institutions and to support the justice system.