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UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) – The UN Security Council warned that turmoil in the Central African Republic poses a "serious threat" to the country and the region, and urged new measures to restore stability.
A unanimous declaration of the 15 council members did not specify what these new options could be, but a recent report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended sanctions against officials from the Seleka coalition suspected of committing atrocities.
According to UN Special Representative Babacar Gaye, the threat of sanctions is a form of pressure to improve the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.
The Central African Republic has been sliding into chaos since Seleka rebels took over in March, with reports of executions, looting and epidemics.
After ousting Francois Bozize from power, the international community granted the Seleka rebel alliance de facto recognition and a shot at steering the nation through a transition period leading to fresh polls.
But on Wednesday Security Council members "expressed deep concern at the security situation in CAR, characterized by a total breakdown in law and order, and the absence of the rule of law."
"They stressed that the armed conflict and crisis in CAR pose a serious threat to the stability of the CAR and the region," it said, highlighting "grave concern" about a deterioration in the humanitarian situation.
It cited "reports of widespread human rights violations, notably by Seleka elements, including those involving arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, rape, extrajudicial killings, recruitment and use of children and attacks against civilians."
Top UN officials earlier called on the international community to act to keep the crisis-torn Central African Republic from becoming a "failed state."
"The Central African Republic is not yet a failed state but has the potential to become one if swift action is not taken," UN under-secretary-general and emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said.
According to the United Nations, 1.6 million people in the Central African Republic are in need of urgent help. The crisis has forced 60,000 people to flee to neighboring countries and has displaced 206,000.
Amos called for the Security Council to support the new International Support Mission to Central Africa (MISCA). The 3,600-strong force, under the auspices of the African Union, is tasked with helping the government secure its territory.
She also called on the international community to provide "funds and logistical support" for the country, noting that only 32 percent of $195 million requested by the United Nations has been provided thus far.
The International Federation for Human Rights said last month it had documented at least 400 murders by Seleka-affiliated groups since March. Barring a few arrests in Bangui, all those killings have gone unpunished.