BANGUI, May 4 – The United Nations is considering the use of unarmed drones to monitor sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, a UN official said, ahead of the deployment in September of 12,000 peacekeepers in the restive nation.
UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations Herve Ladsous said he was thinking about the possible deployment of unmanned aircraft systems to see what is happening on the ground.
“I think this is a very useful instrument in this type of territory,” he told a news conference in the Central African capital.
The UN force will be taking over from 2,000 French and 6,000 African Union soldiers already in place.
The European Union force sent to help stem the deadly violence has been operational since the end of April and was deployed at Bangui airport.
The troops took over airport security from French soldiers who will be deployed elsewhere in the strife-torn country.
What is known as the EUFOR-RCA force currently numbers 150 soldiers, contributed mostly by France, the former colonial power in CAR, and Estonia.
The numbers will increase steadily to 800 by June, boosted by troops from Spain, Finland and Italy among others plus from Georgia.
Full strength is 1,000, with the force concentrated in Bangui and at its airport during its six-month mission.
Ladsous’ three-day visit came just over three months after new President Catherine Samba Panza took over, with reconciliation between the country’s Christian and Muslim communities looking more and more unlikely despite international peacekeeping efforts.
The cycle of sectarian violence that broke out in the chronically unstable African country last year has caused much of the minority Muslim population to flee their homes, with the capital almost entirely emptied of Muslims.
Mostly Christian militias have taken a merciless vengeance on the community after the Seleka, a mostly Muslim rebel group, temporarily seized power in a coup in March 2013.
Since then, thousands have been killed and nearly a million displaced, amid warnings that the country is on the brink of genocide.