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UN to send extra peacekeepers to Central African Republic for Pope’s visit

The Pope's planned visit to Central African Republic later this month is raising alarm (PA)

Britain says UN Security Council members support a request to send hundreds more peacekeepers to Central African Republic as a visit by Pope Francis, and elections, are both set for the coming weeks.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked the council to approve the immediate transfer of about 300 peacekeepers from the Ivory Coast mission for an eight-week period.

Deadly violence in Central African Republic has recently surged, and the Pope’s planned visit late this month is raising alarm.

Britain currently holds the council presidency. Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson says council members support the additional peacekeepers and will make a formal statement “in the coming days.”

However, the Vatican secretary of state has hinted that Pope Francis’s security team will decide at the last minute whether to change his Africa itinerary.

The Vatican secretary of state has hinted that Pope Francis’s security team will decide at the last minute whether to change his Africa itinerary amid continued unrest in the Central African Republic.

Francis is due to visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic from November 25-30.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Monday that: “The three stops remain, but we’ll see depending on the situation on the ground,” according to the ANSA news agency.

Protecting the Pope will be a major security challenge as violence between Christians and Muslims continues in the capital, Bangui, and elsewhere ahead of December elections.