Britain is giving 10 million pounds ($16.4 million) in aid to Central African Republic amid a dramatic escalation in the former French colony's humanitarian crisis.

Human rights groups and U.N. officials have warned about the potential for genocide in near-anarchic Central African Republic. France this week promised to send 1,000 troops in an attempt to bring stability.

The U.K.'s Department of International Development noted the situation in Central African Republic is "deteriorating rapidly" and said Saturday the new funding will allow the Red Cross, U.N. and aid agencies to step up their relief programs amid ongoing fighting and the risk of a severe food crisis.

It said the funds will provide emergency health care, clean water, protection for vulnerable groups and logistical support such as transportation for aid workers.