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France says to seek European help in Central African Republic

Source: Reuters - Sun, 15 Dec 2013 11:04 AM
Author: Reuters
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A displaced woman rests as she waits in line for food distribution in Socati stadium in Bangui December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun
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PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - France will ask for more help from European partners to bolster its peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday.

France has deployed 1,600 troops to the African country to prevent escalating bloodshed between largely Muslim Seleka rebels who ousted ex-President Francois Bozize and Christian militias fighting against them.

The U.N.-authorised mission has helped restore some calm to the capital Bangui, but Fabius said violence could resume in a worsening humanitarian situation for tens of thousands of refugees.

While European nations including Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium have provided various forms of assistance, French troops are intervening alone.

"That is a real, big problem," Fabius told Europe 1 radio. "Tomorrow, I'll go to the Council of Foreign Ministers and I will ask (European partners) for stepped-up, more robust aid, including on the ground."

Support at home for the French intervention has fallen, a poll showed on Saturday, days after two French soldiers were killed in a firefight during a patrol in Bangui.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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