UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general is asking for more than 1,000 additional peacekeepers for the Central African Republic to help bring violence between Christians and Muslims under control outside the capital of the Texas-sized country.
A letter from Ban Ki-moon to the U.N. Security Council president, circulated Thursday, says another 1,030 peacekeepers are needed to help stabilize regions beyond Bangui after more troops than expected were needed to protect senior government officials and critical infrastructure.
That shift of troops limited the peacekeeping force's ability to "respond flexibly and rapidly to emerging crises throughout the country," Ban wrote. He said he is confident that the deployment of the newly requested troops, "if authorized soon," can be achieved by July.
The sectarian violence that erupted in 2012 in Central African Republic has killed at least 5,000 and forced tens of thousands, mostly Muslims, to flee.
Representatives of the country's two warring factions signed an unconditional cease-fire in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, their mediator said Thursday, but there was no representative of President Catherine Samba-Panza's government.
Previous cease-fires agreed to by various alleged representatives of the two sides have quickly fallen apart.
Ban's letter said the security situation remains volatile and that "pockets of vulnerable Muslim communities remain under nearly constant threat and in dire humanitarian conditions, despite the efforts of the international forces."
The U.N. in September took over authority of an African Union peacekeeping force with the goal of putting about 10,000 peacekeepers on the ground. Ban's letter said he hopes the force will be 90 percent deployed by April.
A U.N. commission of inquiry has accused both sides in the conflict in Central African Republic of crimes against humanity and urged the U.N. to establish an international court to prosecute perpetrators.