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BRINK OF COLLAPSE: Central African Republic crisis could spill into neighboring nations, U.N. Says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Senior United Nations officials have declared that the Central African Republic is on the brink of collapse. Furthermore, the crisis is threatens to spread beyond its borders. They have urged that the Security Council fund and support an African Union peacekeeping force.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Central African Republic, or CAR, is a landlocked former French colony. Among the world's poorest nations, CAR has been disrupted ever since the Seleka rebels seized power from President Francois Bozize four months ago. The event has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Africa.

In response, the African Union has rolled an existing 1,100-strong regional peacekeeping mission, known as MICOPAX, into a peacekeeping force. The number of troops will be more than tripled to 3,600. The force has been authorized to protect civilians, help stabilize the country and restore government.

"The African Union has requested financial, logistical and technical support. We have recommended to the council to provide this support. We have also recommended to better adapt the U.N. (political) mission to the current situation," U.N. envoy to the Central African Republic, retired Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, said.

Both the African Union and the U.N. plan to send experts to the Central African Republic to determine what's needed. U.N. diplomats say that the report will inform the Security Council to respond with a resolution.

Gaye and U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic both signaled to the Security Council that the AU force would not be enough to combat the crisis in the Central African Republic, which borders six other states.

"A much larger and nationally more diversified force is needed to provide security and protect the population," Simonovic said. "Such a force would also prevent foreign rebel groups, such as the Lord's Resistance Army or Islamist extremist groups, from finding a safe haven in the country."
The meeting that it was willing "to consider all potential options to stabilize the Central African Republic (CAR)," the U.N. Security Council said in a statement.

"The members of the Security Council expressed deep concern at the security situation in CAR, characterized by a total breakdown in law and order, and the absence of the rule of law," the statement said.

"They stressed that the armed conflict and crisis in CAR pose a serious threat to the stability of the CAR and the region," the statement read.

U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos told the council that CAR was at risk of becoming a failed state. Every one of the country's 4.6 million people, half of which are children, had been affected by the crisis, she said. About 1.6 million of them are in dire need of assistance. More than 206,000 people have been internally displaced and nearly 60,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

"It is critical for the continued safety of humanitarian operations that the AU mission has the funds and logistical support to operate effectively," Amos told the 15-member Security Council.

"The failure to act now could not only prolong and exacerbate the appalling conditions the people of the Central African Republic have had to endure, but could also see the crisis spread beyond its borders and throughout a region already facing enormous challenges," she said.

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