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Last updateLun, 26 Jan 2015 8pm


AU boosts civilian protection in CAR with more troops

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - More troops are to be deployed to the troubled Central Africa Republic (CAR) to provide “renewed vigiour” in the fight against rebel groups.

Four formed police units each made of 140 will bring 560 riot police squads on the ground while another 350 military personnel specialized in signal and engineering have been approved.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) met in Addis Ababa on Saturday, amid the escalating crisis in the CAR and approved a raft of measures to deal with the conflict.

“The aim of deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA) was to facilitate the initial stabilization phase of the situation in order to pave the way for a broader and more sustained international engagement,” the PSC said in a statement at the end of its meeting in Addis Ababa.

The 15-member Council met to review the security situation in CAR amid fresh killings of aid workers and what the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called the “demon of religious cleansing”.

“The situation remains worrying in certain areas and the ongoing efforts should be pursued with vigour to enhance civilian protection, complete the neutralization of the armed groups and create a more conducive environment for the accelerated return of the displaced persons,” the AU stated.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UK and Ireland, said it was “deeply saddened and profoundly shocked” by the killing of two of its members by armed men in CAR on Saturday.

Antonio Guterres, the UNHCR Chief, told the UN Security Council the violence in CAR was one of the worst global crises he had ever witnessed in his eight years as top UNHCR official.

“The situation is dramatic with refugees arriving scarred, malnourished and extremely vulnerable after having walked and hidden in the forest for days and weeks,” Guterres said on Thursday.

He said even though CAR had been in a crisis for a while, the current crisis “is no way more of the same”.

At least 290,000 people have been forced to flee homes since the former Seleka rebels led a military coup that toppled former leader, Francois Bozize.

The AU PSC commended the steps taken so far, to facilitate the full deployment of MISCA’s authorized troop strength of 6,000 and the implementation of the deployment plans.

The AU said it was pleased that normalcy was returning to some areas under the control of MISCA and the French operation, Sangaris.

It noted there was some gradual resumption of activity in some areas. It also praised the creation of a humanitarian corridor to act as a monitoring centre for humanitarian operations.

The UN Security Council is expected to finally draft a resolution for the takeover of the peacekeeping operation in the CAR. The crisis has deepened after the emergence of the Seleka rebel group, led to the rise of a new group, the anti-balaka group, which escalated the violence.

There is continuing brutality targeting the Muslim community, a development that is worrying the international community, because of the potential for the entry of international terrorism groups.

The AU is expecting that the transfer of authority from MISCA to UN-approved and mandated mission should take over by 14 September.

The AU is insisting a decision authorizing the UN takeover of the peacekeeping operations must have the CAR government's staunch approval. It also wants the UN Security Council to grant a greater role to regional leaders in the peacekeeping plans in CAR.

Pana 09/03/2014