France warns Central African Republic 'on verge of genocide'

PARIS (AFP) - France warned on Thursday that the Central African Republic was "on the verge of genocide", as the UN considers sending thousands of peacekeepers to the strife-torn country.

"It's total disorder," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television, adding that the United Nations was considering authorising African and French troops to intervene in the country.

"You have seven surgeons for a population of five million, an infant mortality rate of 25 per cent in some areas and 1.5 million people who have nothing, not even food, and armed gangs, bandits, etc," he said.

The former French colony, an impoverished country rich in natural resources, has faced growing chaos since a coalition of rebels known as Seleka staged a coup in March, forcing president Francois Bozize to flee.

The transitional government has lost the grip on the large country of 4.5 million people, with retaliatory attacks between Muslims and Christians on the rise.