Burundi prepares to send more troops to CAR

Hundreds more soldiers to be sent to the Central African Republic amid clashes between Christian and Muslims in capital.

    Burundi currently has 850 men in the 6,000-strong African peacekeeping force known as MISCA [AFP]
    Burundi currently has 850 men in the 6,000-strong African peacekeeping force known as MISCA [AFP]

    Burundi is ready to send more troops to the Central African Republic (CAR), where international forces are trying to put an end to sectarian violence, the country's President Pierre Nkurunziza has said.

    "We have been asked by the African Union and the United Nations to raise the number of our troops in the CAR," Nkurunziza said during a visit to Paris on Wednesday.

    "We are ready to deploy 450 troops and have prepared two police units of a total of 280 officers."

    Burundi is looking for necessary equipment and support from its partners to see the mission through, he added.

    Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic, a former French colony, has left tens of thousands dead and displaced around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people.

    Burundi currently has 850 men in the 6,000-strong African peacekeeping force known as MISCA, which is trying to contain the crisis along with about 2,000 French troops.

    MISCA will gradually be replaced by a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force from September.

    'Tragic circumstances'

    On Wednesday, the UN food aid and refugee agencies appealed for funds to cope with a growing humanitarian crisis in Cameroon caused by thousands of refugees fleeing the Central African Republic.

    The World Food Programme and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said up to 2,000 people a week were crossing into neighbouring Cameroon, many of them wounded in sectarian clashes and suffering from malnutrition after weeks hiding in the bush.

    "People are arriving in absolutely tragic circumstances and in a context in which support for humanitarian organisations is reduced, because this is a forgotten crisis," UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres told the AFP news agency.

    "The appeals we have launched have been financed to a level of around 10 percent," said Guterres, who also warned that there was "a real risk of regional spillover" from a conflict that has taken increasingly ethno-religious tones.

    The chronically unstable Central African Republic sank into chaos after minority Muslim fighters from the Seleka former rebel group seized power in March 2013 after helping to topple president Francois Bozize, but then refused to lay down their arms.

    Their campaign of killing, raping and looting prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilante groups that fought back, committing atrocities of their own.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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