President Obama on Tuesday authorized the State Department to increase the amount of military supplies and services shipped to French and African Union member forces trying to quell sectarian violence in the Central African Republic by $60 million.
A drawdown from Defense Department stocks "could be used to provide logistics support, including strategic airlift for French and African forces deploying to CAR, aerial refueling, and programs to train and equip MISCA troop contributing countries," said National Security Staff spokesman Jonathan Lally in an e-mail.
The latest assistance announced by the White House is in addition to $40 million in aid the State Department announced in November and the Pentagon's announcement Monday that it would use Air Force C-17s to fly 850 Burundian troops into CAR as part of the French-African Union efforts.
Lally said the administration remains greatly concerned over the violence in CAR.
"We are actively supporting the international community's efforts to end the violence, protect civilians, prevent atrocities, provide humanitarian assistance, and help create an environment that allows constitutional and democratic governance to be restored," Lally said.
Violence in the country has worsened since a coalition of Muslim rebels groups known as Seleka overthrew the government in March. The coalition has fractured since then, but rebel leader Michel Djotodia continues to claim he is president of the majority Christian country.
The White House said in its message to the State Department that supplies drawn from DoD stockpiles provide assistance to more than eight nations taking part in CAR operations.
The message specifically identified France and African Union nations Republic of the Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda. Other countries may also contribute troops, the message said.
Lally said the U.S. was a strong backer of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2127, which authorized the African Union-led mission into CAR to protect civilians, restore security and public order, and stabilize the country.
"The African Union-led stabilization force ... and French troops deployed to support them, are the most immediate and effective mechanism to prevent atrocities and restore security," he said.
The British Royal Air Force has been using C-17s to fly French troops into the country. France currently has about 1,600 soldiers on the ground there.
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