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Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 7:35:02 AM
Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 7:36:02 AM
by michelle nichols AND louis charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Central African Republic could still be saved from becoming another failed state like Somalia, but it probably will require the deployment of a strong United Nations peacekeeping operation, European aid chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.
Waves of attacks by Muslim and Christian militias have killed hundreds, if not thousands, in Central African Republic since rebels seized power in March 2012. A U.N. official warned on Thursday of the risk of a genocide.
Georgieva, who has visited Central African Republic twice since the crisis erupted, told Reuters in an interview that initially people were wary of speaking out about the sectarian violence because they were concerned it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, like "pulling the tail of the devil."
France last year deployed some 1,600 troops to help a largely ineffective African peacekeeping force. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due to submit a report to the Security Council next month with recommendations for a possible U.N. peacekeeping force that would take over from the African troops.
"The option of a U.N. peacekeeping operation must be looked into very seriously," Georgieva said.
"While it is very good for Africans to help each other, Central African Republic, being where it is, makes it more difficult, more complex for an African solution because of the complicated relations between Chad and Central African Republic," she said.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that a U.N. human rights team has gathered testimony that Chadian citizens, including peacekeepers, carried out mass killings.
Central African Republic - with a population of 4.6 million - lies at a crossroads of conflict in the heart of Africa, with Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia to the east, the Islamist threat in the Sahel region to the northwest and the revolts of the Great Lakes to the southeast.
More than a million people have been displaced by the violence. Over 1,000 people were killed last month alone in the capital Bangui, prompting neighboring countries to evacuate more than 30,000 of their citizens.
"The Central African Republic is bad, but it is not yet Somalia, it is not yet al Qaeda, al Shabaab, Boko Haram territory. We act now, it doesn't turn into one, but it would take a very strong effort," Georgieva said.
Georgieva is due to host an aid conference on the Central African Republic in Brussels on Monday.
"The donor community now has a chance to redeem itself because CAR has been an aid orphan for many, many, many years and that has contributed to the weakness of the country, it has been forgotten by the world," she said.
(Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Ken Wills)
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