The United Nations will send an extra contingent of troops to the Central African Republic amid warnings that lack of international support would leave the country at a real risk of ethnic cleansing.
During a Wednesday session of the UN Security Council, member countries unanimously agreed to beef up the UN mission in CAR, which is known as MINUSCA.
The agreement came after negotiations between France, a main foreign power present in CAR, and the US, the biggest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping. That led to a 15-0 vote to extend MINUSCA mandate in Central Africa for one more year and a deployment of 900 extra peacekeeping troops to the country, as requested by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Guterres had previously warned that Central Africa was at the brink of an ethnic cleansing if the UN failed to contribute more.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre hailed the decision and said the US approval of an extended mandate was very crucial.
“The Security Council cannot afford to take the risk of allowing the CAR to relapse into a crisis in which it was mired,” Delattre said, adding, “With our American friends, the more the discussions are based on a pragmatic approach, about life-and-death issues, about effects on the ground, the better.”
France intervened in CAR in 2013 to push back Seleka rebel alliance that had toppled longtime leader Francois Bozize. However, the country has seen widespread violence since then as various groups continue to vie for power across provinces.
MINUSCA’s chief resigned in 2015 in the face of rising allegations of sex abuse against the UN peacekeepers, further complicating the situation of foreign troops in the country.