UN in talks on peacekeeper failings in C. Africa

The United Nations is in talks with countries that contribute peacekeepers to its mission in the Central African Republic after an investigation found their response to attacks last year fell short, a UN spokesman said Friday.

A special investigation led by a retired general from Benin found “deficiencies” in peacekeeping operations in the southeast of the country from May to August 2017 and presented recommendations, the UN said.

UN peacekeeping officials are in to talks with the troop- and police-contributing countries “to ensure that these measures are implemented,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

“If they are not,… peacekeeping will decide at the appropriate time on any further action to be taken,” he said.

Troops serving in the MINUSCA force may be sent home if they fail to show improvements, according to UN officials.

The Security Council in November voted to beef up the peacekeeping force with 900 extra troops, bringing the total number of troops and police serving in MINUSCA to about 13,700.

The decision followed a warning from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the country faced a risk of ethnic cleansing.

In May, the town of Bangassou was attacked by “anti-balaka” militias — a force that claims to defend Christian communities from mostly Muslim rebels — who killed many civilians.

In August, similar bloodshed took place at Gambo, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Bangassou, despite the presence of UN soldiers near both towns. In all, several dozen people were massacred.

There are also concerns about the presence of anti-balaka fighters at a camp for displaced people in Bria, where MINUSCA is providing protection.

The Central African Republic has been struggling to return to stability since the country exploded into bloodshed after the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

France intervened militarily to push out the Seleka alliance, but the country remains plagued by violence pitting groups competing for control of resources and areas of influence.

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