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France and EU to boost peacekeeping effort in Central African Republic

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France and EU to boost peacekeeping effort in Central African Republic


France is planning to send an extra 400 troops to the Central African Republic to try to stop the violence in its former colony.

A total of 2,000 French troops will help the African Union force of 5,000.

EU diplomats have now indicated that a 1,000-strong European unit – double the number spoken of previously – should be there from March.

France has called on other countries to show “increased solidarity” and deploy peacekeepers more quickly.

The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said:
“Europe has decided to intervene and, right now as we speak, there is a pooling of forces that is being done and in which we ask each country how many troops or what kind of support it can bring.”

The announcement comes in the week the UN warned of “ethnic cleansing” after peacekeepers found over a dozen bodies in a mass grave at a military camp occupied by Seleka rebels in Bangui.

The European force will focus on securing the capital’s airport, where tens of thousands of refugees have taken shelter.

Five EU countries (Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Portugal and Romania) as well as Georgia are said to have pledged a “substantial” contribution to the European force while others have offered logistical support.

Britain – which has already offered logistical support to France – has welcomed the EU's announcement of the military operation to secure the Bangui area, but says it will not be providing combat troops.

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