The conflict in the Central African Republic could slide into genocide if the international community fails to act, EU Humanitarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday.
Her comments came during an interview with Euronews in Bangui, the capital city of the former French colony.
It is the first time that a top EU official has publicly raised the possibility that such killing could take place in the CAR.
“This is at risk of becoming a genocide. So far what we see is killings that – most of the time – are the result of banditry, not of determination to kill a person of a different religion,” said Georgieva.
“But if this banditry is not stopped and if it continues to lead to that kind of ‘pushing the minority out’, it may bring the country into the bad columns of those who have allowed genocide to happen.
“It is also in our own self interest because a lawless CAR inevitably will become a breeding ground for very bad people who would reach our lands as well.”
More than half the country’s 4.6 million people need assistance, according to the United Nations.
On Tuesday, the European Commission announced that it was doubling its humanitarian aid for CAR refugees from 3 million to 6 million euros.
Some one million have fled their homes after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March 2013 coup d’etat that ousted former President Francois Bozize, leaving the country reeling in turmoil.
Some 6,000 African peacekeepers and 2,000 French troops have since been deployed in the country and the UN plans to send a 12,000-strong force in September, but so far they have been unable to quell the violence.