British Minister for Africa troubled by CAR conflict

Feb. 12, 2014 at 12:52 PM

LONDON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- There have been signs of hope for the Central African Republic but lingering violence is "disturbing," Britain's minister for the region said Wednesday.

British Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds, briefing members of Parliament on the crisis in CAR, said the deployment of French troops in support of an African Union peacekeeping mission, and the nomination of Catherine Samba-Penza as interim president, were positive developments.

"But there are still disturbing levels of violence," he said.

Simmonds said his government is one of the largest humanitarian donors to CAR. A provision for $3.2 million for the AU will help cover some of its costs incurred during CAR operations.

CAR conflict erupted in March when Seleka, a Sunni rebel coalition, overthrew the government by force. The International Criminal Court last week opened an investigation into the violence, saying the conflict has "gone from bad to worse."

The European Commission, which authorized its own military operation in CAR this week, said restoring security and public order in CAR was an "immediate" priority.

Simmonds said improved security, humanitarian access and a "strong" political process were "key priorities" for his government.

The United Nations estimates nearly 1 million people are displaced by conflict in CAR.

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