By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The federal New Democrats want to see Canadian Forces peacekeepers on the ground in the Central African Republic to prevent genocide.
Paul Dewar, the NDP's foreign affairs critic, urged the government to respond to a United Nations call for peacekeeping assistance, saying such missions are part of Canada's historic role on the world stage.
Dewar said Canada and the Western world must heed the lesson of the Rwanda genocide that left 800,000 civilians dead 20 years ago this month.
Sectarian violence in the Central African Republic has forced 200,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries, while displacing 600,000 internally.
Earlier this month, the UN Security Council authorized a force of 12,000 to help soldiers from France and the African Union that are trying to protect civilians in the country.
Dewar said the Canadian Forces are in a position to provide military expertise in logistics and training.
But he said Canada should also send soldiers that would be part of an on-the-ground peacekeeping force that is being assembled in the coming months, in part because CAR is a French-speaking country.
"This will be a complicated conflict to deal with if we don't do anything now," said Dewar.
Earlier this month, the Czech Republic said it would contribute 250 troops for the mission.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada is reviewing its options "thoroughly" with its allies.
So far, Canada has contributed $16 million in humanitarian assistance and $5 million to support the security efforts of the African Union and France.