By Mike Pflanz
The Telegraph, November 20, 2013
"Thousands of United Nations peacekeepers should be dispatched urgently to halt Christian-Muslim fighting in the Central African Republic that risks spiralling into genocide, Ban Ki-moon and aid agencies have said. Months of violence have pushed the country into near-anarchy with thousands of people killed or kidnapped and over half a million forced to flee their homes. On Tuesday, Amnesty International warned there was 'no time to wait' in deploying a UN mission, citing large scale human rights abuses and possible 'crimes against humanity'. The group's call came after the UN secretary-general urged the Security Council to immediately authorise the dispatch of 6,000 blue berets to bolster an existing but ineffective force of 2,500 African peacekeepers, which is all that currently stands between Muslim former rebels and Christian vigilante groups. A further 3,000 UN peacekeepers should be on standby in case the situation deteriorates, Mr. Ban told the Security Council late on Monday. 'This cycle, if not addressed now, threatens to degenerate into a country-wide religious and ethnic divide, with the potential to spiral into an uncontrollable situation, including atrocity crimes, with serious national and regional implications,' Mr. Ban warned. Already, human rights groups say that both sides may have committed war crimes, and a UN expert on genocide said that the situation could worsen. 'We are seeing armed groups killing people under the guise of their religion,' said Adama Dieng, the UN's special adviser on the prevention of genocide. 'My feeling is that this will end with Christian communities, Muslim communities killing each other which means that if we don't act now and decisively I will not exclude the possibility of a genocide occurring.' Despite deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium, the Central African Republic is one of the poorest and most politically unstable nations in the world, and has weathered repeated coups since independence from France in 1960. The current fighting began soon after Michael Djotodia, leader of the Seleka rebels, ousted Francois Bozize, the former president, in the latest coup in March.