11 April 2014

Central Africa: CAR Worried About Peacekeeping Mission Timing

The Central African Republic's government says U.N. authorization of a nearly 12,000-member peacekeeping force is a "good start," but it questions the timing of the mission.

Spokeswoman Gisele Bedan says she is worried about the September 15 deployment date for the U.N. forces.

In a VOA interview, she expressed concern that the start date for the deployment to the violence-plagued C.A.R. is too far away.

On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to send 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police to the C.A.R., in a bid to end inter-religious violence that has left thousands dead and forced one million people to flee from their homes.

There are currently about 6,000 African Union and 2,000 French troops in the C.A.R., but they have been unable to control the violence.

On Friday, the U.N. refugee agency said it was "extremely concerned" about reports that largely Christian anti-balaka militias were attacking civilians who were trying to leave the country.

Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said over the past two weeks, C.A.R. refugees had been arriving in neighboring Cameroon with gun and machete wounds.

The agency also said increasing numbers of refugees were arriving in Cameroon in "terrible physical condition" because they had traveled remote routes in order to avoid anti-balaka fighters.

The anti-balaka attacks have prompted most of the C.A.R.'s Muslim minority to flee their homes.

The militias formed last year, in response to a wave of killing and looting, mostly by Muslim Seleka forces.

C.A.R. Foreign Minister Toussaint Kongo Doudou said Thursday that the violence had ravaged the country.

"The whole country has been destroyed by armed bandits, the former rebels, so we have to put back those infrastructures on the ground. So the challenges are enormous."

Earlier this week, the U.N. refugee agency said it had received just 20 percent of the $112 million it needs this year to help respond to the C.A.R.'s crisis.

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