The UN Security Council yesterday unanimously approved a nearly 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force for Central African Republic, as police said fresh sectarian violence had killed at least 30 people.
The 10,000 UN troops and 1,800 police will take over from 5,000 African Union soldiers, but not until September 15. A separate 2,000-strong French force in the Central African Republic was authorised to use "all necessary means" to support the new UN force.
Central African Republic has been in chaos since a March 2013 coup, when mostly Muslim rebels seized power and launched a brutal regime. Christian militiamen attacked rebel strongholds in early December.
As the rebel government crumbled in January, the Christian militiamen stepped up the violence, forcing tens of thousands of Muslims to flee.
The resolution expresses serious concern at multiple violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by both former Seleka elements and anti-Balaka militia including killings, torture and sexual violence against women and children.
The resolution "demands that all militias and armed groups put aside their arms, cease all forms of violence and destabilising activities immediately and release children from their ranks".
The Security Council wanted a strong mandate and the resolution authorises the new UN force to protect civilians and support the disarmament of combatants and the restoration of peace and law and order.
The latest clashes between Christian and Muslim fighters had left at least 30 people dead and forced others to flee their homes, a priest said yesterday.
Everaldo De Suza of the Saint Anne parish in the central town of Dekoa said that the fighting began on Tuesday when Christian militants attacked and Muslim fighters fought back. A Christian commander confirmed that the fighting took place.