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UN boosts peacekeepers in Central African Republic by 1,000

UN boosts peacekeepers in Central African Republic by 1,000
March 26, 2015
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Security Council on Thursday boosted the number of peacekeepers in Central African Republic by more than 1,000 after the mission was overburdened by a need to protect infrastructure and senior officials in the capital Bangui. The 15-member council unanimously approved the request by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for an additional 750 troops and 280 police, which takes the mandated strength of the operation to nearly 13,000 uniformed personnel. The council also approved another 20 corrections officers, to help reopen prisons outside of Bangui. A largely Christian or animist "anti-balaka" militia took up arms in 2013 in response to months of looting and killing by Muslim Seleka rebels who had toppled President Francois Bozize and seized power in March of that year. A UN commission of inquiry found that the Christian militia carried out ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population during the country's ongoing civil war, but said there was no proof of genocidal intent. Ban said following violence in Bangui in October 2014, more troops had to be dedicated to securing the capital and critical infrastructure, while police had to be deployed to protect senior CAR officials. This left fewer troops to be deployed outside of Bangui, including to an ex-Seleka stronghold. Some 5,600 African Union (AU) peacekeepers, deployed in December 2013, and an additional 2,000 French troops have struggled to stem the violence in the impoverished landlocked country of 4.6 million people. The United Nations took over the AU mission in September. France is also scaling back its mission and a 750-strong European Union force pulled out this month. Central African Republic remains one of Africa's biggest humanitarian crises. About 440,000 people are displaced inside the country and a further 450,000 refugees have fled its borders. - Reuters