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French troops working under the UN mandate successfully evacuated a convoy of 102 Muslims from Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR) to Bambari 300km to the northeast late Monday.
Members of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) accompanied the convoy which was pelted with rocks as it left Bangui.
According to UN officials, almost all Muslim residents of the capital have either been killed or fled the ethnic violence which began when Christian militia launched reprisal attacks against the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition at the end of 2013.
Although Bambari is comprised mostly of Christians, the northeast is controlled by Seleka rebels.
In March, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said 99 per cent of the city’s once 100,000 Muslims fled the violence which began when the government fell in December.
Her report was backed by UNHCR, which said that ethnic cleansing may have occurred in other parts of the country, as well.
In a statement published on February 12, Amnesty International said international peacekeeping forces “have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in [CAR].”
The organization described global response to the crisis as “tepid.”
Meanwhile, French commanders quoted by the Associated Press said that their soldiers clashed with Christian militia in the town of Grimari in central CAR and that they were currently patrolling the area.
They provided no casualties toll but said the threat had been “neutralised”.
Last week, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved the deployment of 11,800 peacekeepers and police to stabilise CAR.
Named MINUSCA, the force of 10,000 soldiers and 1,800 police members will replace the nearly 2,000 French troops and over 3,000 African troops currently there.
In early April, Chad withdrew its force of 850 soldiers after they were accused of killing 30 civilians in a marketplace in the capital Bangui. Chadian commanders said their soldiers returned fire after being attacked.
The UNSC approval came after France, a former colonial power in Africa (including CAR), tabled a draft resolution which drew attention to numerous reports of human rights violations including, kidnap, rape, torture, and attacks on houses of worship, among others.