New York - The United States announced on Wednesday an additional $22-million in humanitarian aid for Central African Republic, on the eve of a key vote at the UN to authorise the deployment of peacekeepers.

The latest funding brings to $67-million the amount the US has released for the war-ravaged country this financial year, said the US mission to the United Nations, whose chief, Samantha Power, is visiting the country.

More than $8.8-million of the $22-million is for health, protection, economic recovery, relief commodities, water and sanitation efforts for non-governmental organisations and the World Health Organisation.

An initial contingent of 55 EU troops made their first patrols in the capital Bangui on Wednesday, their arrival coming a day before the Security Council is expected to give the green light to the deployment of 12 000 peacekeepers in order to help end the violence.

A coup in March last year by the Muslim Seleka rebels plunged the country into chaos. After seizing power, some of the rebels went rogue and embarked on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.

The abuses prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilantes called “anti-balaka”, or “anti-machete” in the local Sango language, unleashing a wave of brutal tit-for-tat killings in the former French colony. - Sapa-AFP