CAR

Central African Republic: France grants €500,000 for humanitarian aid

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BANGUI , 18 February (IRIN) - French Cooperation Minister Pierre Andre Wiltzer announced on Sunday that France would provide the government of the Central African Republic "almost immediately" €500,000 (US $536,700) in emergency and humanitarian aid.
Speaking on Sunday in Bangui at the end of his two-day visit to the war-troubled country, he told reporters that France had also granted CAR €120,000 ($128,808) for the same purpose.

Wiltzer's visit came about two months after CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse's "urgent and formal" appeal for French troops to restore his country's territorial integrity.

Patasse is trying to quash a revolt by supporters of former CAR army chief of staff Francois Bozize. A regional grouping, the Monetary Community of Central African States, has sent 303 troops to CAR with a mandate to protect Patasse, monitor the CAR-Chad border, and retrain the CAR army.

Wiltzer said France would provide such forces with the means to fulfil their mandate.

To this end, he said, France had already given €9 million ($9.66 million) for the training, transport, equipment and routine expenditures of the regional troops. Regional leaders set up the force during their 2 October 2002 Libreville summit. The force began operations in late December and has an authorised strength of 350 soldiers.

"A French military mission will come very soon to assess the situation," Wiltzer said.

[ENDS]

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