UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations said on Friday that it would speed up planning for a possible UN peacekeeping force in the conflict-ridden Central African Republic (CAR).
The announcement came after the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon discussed the "grave situation" in the African country with French President Francois Hollande over the phone.
"As requested by the Security Council, the United Nations has already started contingency planning and preparations for the potential transformation of MISCA (the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR) into a United Nations peacekeeping operation," said a statement from the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General regarding the phone call. "Further consultations with members of the Security Council and with the African Union will be expeditiously undertaken in the coming days. "
According to the statement, both Ban and Hollande agreed the grave situation in the CAR "is a complex emergency affecting the whole population, in particular women and children from all communities."
The UN chief expressed particular concern about increasing sectarian violence and violence between communities.
The two leaders also discussed "ongoing efforts to support MISCA, the African Union peacekeeping mission, and the need to address capacity constraints by raising the number of personnel capable of providing security to the territory, undertake disarmament and support the organization of elections."
The spokesperson's office also noted that the United Nations has already deployed a team of human rights officers to monitor the ongoing violence against civilians and is making arrangements for the deployment of a permanent team for early 2014.
Eight Chadian soldiers of MISCA were killed in the past two days, including six slain on Christmas day. At least 50 civilians were also killed in the clash this week in Bangui, capital of the CAR, according to Red Cross sources.
Earlier this month in Bangui, Christians and Muslims launched reprisal attacks against each other across the city, killing at least 450 people and driving nearly 160,000 others from their homes.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing increased military action by MISCA and French troops in the CAR to try to end near-anarchy amid an upsurge in Muslim-Christian violence, killings, torture and rapes.
The CAR, with a population of 4.6 million, has been marred by coups and rebellions. The situation took a sharp turn for the worse in March when the rebel group Seleka Alliance ousted President Francois Bozize.
A transitional government has been entrusted with a mandate to restore law and order and pave the way for democratic elections, only to see a resurgence of armed clashes between the ex-rebel Seleka troops and Christian militia, plunging half of the country' s population into dire humanitarian disaster.
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