European Union (EU) [official website] foreign ministers agreed on Monday to increase military presence in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], and EU member states and other international donors also raised half a billion dollars [press release] in order to provide humanitarian assistance in the country. EU foreign ministers agreed to send up to one thousand military personnel to the CAR, which would be the EU's first major military operation [Reuters report] in six years. It remains unknown exactly which countries will provide troops to the operation, though Estonia has guaranteed that they will send troops, and Italy and Germany have stated that they will not. EU officials hope to have troops in place by the end of February, but first will need to gain approval by the UN Security Council [official website].
There has been growing international concern over gross human rights violations in CAR since the Seleka rebel forces seized the nations capital [BBC backgrounder] in March of 2013. The UN reported on Sunday that more than 6,000 child soldiers may be involved [JURIST report] in the conflict in the CAR. Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons urged [JURIST report] the international community to assist the approximately 1 million individuals who have been internally displaced by the ongoing violence in CAR. In December UNICEF [official website] issued a report [JURIST report] detailing horrific attacks against children in CAR. Also in December, the UN Security Council voted unanimously [JURIST report] to authorize the deployment of peacekeepers to CAR. In November, Navi Pillay warned [JURIST report] that the continued violence between militias, rebels and government forces in CAR threatened to lead the country into renewed conflict. UN Sectetary General Ban Ki-moon condemned [JURIST report] the coup by the Seleka rebels last March and advocated for a "swift restoration of constitutional order."