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International Commitment To Central African Republic

French soldiers patrol in the streets in Bangui, Central African Republic on Dec. 13, 2013.

The international community is stepping up efforts to quell escalating ethnic and religious violence in the Central African Republic

The international community is stepping up efforts to quell escalating ethnic and religious violence in the Central African Republic. On December 5, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to authorize deployment of French troops and an African Union stabilization force with a strong mandate to protect civilians and deal with the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation. The resolution also asks the UN to begin contingency planning for a possible transition to a UN peacekeeping operation, depending on conditions on the ground.

Our nation’s ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power called the CAR’s transitional president Michel Djotodia to convey the United States’ deep concern over the deteriorating situation and urged him to ensure the arrest of perpetrators of recent atrocities. She also asked him to denounce violence and to call publicly for calm and an immediate return to law and order.

Chaos and violence have gripped the C.A.R. since last December, when the Seleka alliance began its rebellion, seizing power and removing then-President Bozize from office. Since then, the situation has become increasingly anarchic, with Seleka fighters killing, raping and pillaging, and Christian militias, known as anti-balaka, forming in response to Seleka abuses. Although Djotodia disbanded the Seleka alliance in September, its fighters continue to act with impunity throughout the country.

International observers estimate that 400,000 people have been internally displaced and some 68,000 new refugees have fled in recent months to neighboring countries amid deplorable levels of violence and lawlessness. Over 400 people were killed in the capital Bangui between December 5 and 8 in fighting between the ex-Seleka and the anti-balaka. Many were innocent civilians, including women and children, caught in the firefight.

The Bangui killings are the latest in a string of reports that illustrate the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the C.A.R. and the increased risk of large-scale atrocities.

The United States believes that the African Union force, which is already on the ground and knows the territory, is the best mechanism to help quickly address the ongoing violence and provide security to allow humanitarian assistance and investigation into numerous human rights violations. The United States has committed $100 million to support this mission. We applaud France’s decision to reinforce its military presence and call on others to pledge financial and logistical support as well.