The Central African Republic is “on the verge of genocide,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television on Thursday.
If authorized by the United Nations, France may intervene in its former colony, he added.
The country has descended into chaos since March, when fighters from Seleka, a coalition of Muslim rebels, toppled President Francois Bozize. Villages, mostly in the western part of the country, were burned and about 400,000 people fled their homes.
Basic services evaporated as civil servants abandoned their jobs. Residents have formed militias to protect themselves against armed bandits roaming the streets. And there are now daily clashes between Christian and Muslim communities.
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“It’s total disorder,” Fabius said. "You have seven surgeons for a population of five million, an infant mortality rate of 25 percent in some areas and 1.5 million people who have nothing, not even food, and armed gangs, bandits, etc.”
Other world leaders agree with Fabius’ assessment. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon urged the UN Security Council on Monday to send 6,000 peacekeepers to assist the 2,500 African peacekeepers already in CAR.
“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," Ban said.