Mini-summit on C. Africa crisis in Brussels on Wednesday

AFP , Friday 28 Mar 2014

A man reacts in the RDOT camp in Kilometre 11 (PK11), where some of the last remaining ex-Seleka fighters are sheltering, guarded by African Union and French peacekeeping forces in the capital Bangui March 14, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

French President Francois Hollande is to co-chair a "mini-summit" of 15 European and 15 African nations in Brussels on Wednesday over the escalating crisis in the Central African Republic.

EU officials said Friday that the talks would be held ahead of a wider EU-Africa summit starting Wednesday afternoon that is to gather 90 nations from both continents and include 65 heads of state and government.

Also expected to attend the Central African crisis talks is UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Alarm is growing over the situation in the country, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton sounding a strong note of alarm over the escalation of violence this week.

Troops among the 8,000 foreign peacekeepers from the African force MISCA from a majority-Christian vigilante group known as "anti-balaka" as the nations descends into increasing inter-religious strife.

Security is especially tight ahead of this week's first anniversary of the toppling of Francois Bozize by majority-Muslim Seleka rebels, which sparked the current unrest.

The so-called "anti-balaka" militias were formed in response to killing and pillaging by Seleka rebels who went rogue after last year's coup.

Thousands have been killed and around a quarter of the country's 4.6 million people displaced. Muslim residents of Bangui have been besieged for weeks by the anti-balaka as well as by looters.

Speaking at an EU summit in Brussels last week, Hollande appealed to his European partners to quickly provide enough troops for a delayed EU peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic.

"Five hundred personnel are needed. There are currently only 375, so more effort must be made," Hollande said.

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