UN boosts peacekeeping force in troubled area of Central African Republic

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United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) are stepping up their presence near a refugee camp in the country's northeast where deadly clashes last week have increased tensions in an already unstable area.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative to the CAR, Victor Angelo, announced today that the peacekeeping force (known as MINURCAT) would boost its presence at the Sam Ouandja camp given the security risks in the area and the precarious situation of the refugees, who are mainly from the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.

Mr. Angelo travelled to Sam Ouandja yesterday to assess the situation in the wake of last week's clashes on a road near the town that killed two members of the rebel group, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity - known by its French acronym, UFDR - and another person.

Tensions have subsequently increased between the UFDR, which has about 100 armed men stationed in Sam Ouandja, and the Darfurian refugees.

Yesterday Mr. Angelo met with local authorities, civil society groups, the local UFDR leadership, refugee representatives and aid workers in the affected area.

He encouraged all parties to continue their discussions and said he hoped that national authorities based in the capital, Bangui, will initiate mediation efforts as soon as possible to restore calm.

The Special Representative also reminded the UFDR of its responsibilities as a non-regular army, calling on members to exercise restraint in advance of an expected disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion (DDR) programme being introduced to the CAR.

One of the poorest and most under-developed countries in the world, the CAR has been beset by sporadic conflict between Government forces and rebels and wider unrest in recent years, leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced. The fighting and tensions have been most acute in the northeast.

MINURCAT has been in place in north-eastern CAR and eastern Chad since 2007 to promote peace in the troubled region and to promote human rights and protect civilians.