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Bangui - The spiralling violence in the Central African Republic could turn into a genocide, the UN's humanitarian operations director warned on Thursday, calling for large-scale aid and military support to help stabilise the country.
The violence “has all the elements that we have seen elsewhere in places like Rwanda, Bosnia. The elements are there for a genocide, there is no question about that,” John Ging told reporters in Geneva after a five-day visit to the impoverished and unstable country.
“Atrocities are being committed on an ongoing basis, (and) fear is consuming the minds of an entire population, wherever you might go,” he said, insisting that the international community had a responsibility to “create conditions where the fear can be dissipated.”
His comments came as the strife-torn country's transitional parliament was meeting to elect a new interim president, after ex-rebel Michel Djotodia resigned last week under intense regional pressure.
On Thursday, AFP reporters saw the bodies of three people, including a teenage boy, killed by bullets in a Bangui mosque, while the country's Red Cross office said it had collected the corpses of four men killed by machetes.
Tensions remained high in the capital where French and African troops were patrolling in a bid to quell unrest that has grown between Muslim former rebels and the Christian majority in the wake of a coup that last year plunged the poor, landlocked country into chaos.
Ging stressed that the violence did not yet amount to an inter-religious conflict, “but it has the potential.”
The international community needs to act quickly, he insisted, pointing out that “this is still a situation that can be turned around.”
The presence of international troops on the ground were already making a difference, he said, insisting however that the operation should be broadened.
“The stakes are extremely high,” he said, while also appealing for an increase in humanitarian funding.
“We are very much depending for the scaling-up on our donors,” he said, pointing out that the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has only received six percent ($15.5 million) of the 247 million dollars it asked for for Central Africa in mid-December.