The Ukraine crisis is hampering the European Union's plans to send troops to Central African Republic because nervous eastern European countries want to keep their troops at home rather than send them to Africa, according to diplomatc sources.

"It is clear that the situation in Ukraine has impacted on the willingness of some of the likely contributors both in the EU and outside the EU to be necessarily ready to deploy to Central African Republic," a diplomat who would not be named said on Friday.

"There are some potential troop contributors, both eastern European EU states and ... partners of the EU, that were considering troop contributions (but) firming that up as a definite deployment hasn't yet happened and one would assume it's because it's an unstable neighbourhood," he said.

The EU has drawn up plans to send 800 to 1,000 soldiers to Central African Republic to join 6,000 African and 2,000 French troops, who have struggled to stop the fighting that started when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power a year ago in the majority Christian state.

But the plan has been jeopardised by the failure of European governments to provide key soldiers and equipment for the force, EU sources said on Thursday.

A second EU diplomatic source said the Ukraine crisis was "not a facilitating factor" when it came to raising troops for the EU mission to Central African Republic.

Neither diplomat could give specific examples of how the Ukraine crisis had affected the EU's plans but Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and non-EU member Georgia are among countries reported to be considering contributing to the force.

Plea for peacekeepers

Meanwhile at the United Nations, Muslim and Christian leaders of the Central African Republic pleaded for the UN Security Council to hurry and deploy peacekeepers to a country that has been ripped apart by unprecedented sectarian violence.

In their first joint appearance at the United Nations on Friday, the presidents of the country's Muslim and evangelical communities and the archbishop of Bangui warned that if quick action isn't taken, the "partition of the CAR will lead to genocidal war."

At least 2,000 people have been killed since the start of the crisis and around one million others have been displaced by the violence, according to UN officials.

 

Source: Agencies