The French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has arrived in the Central African Republic where it has been announced the African Union has followed France’s example and boosted its troop numbers.
The force has more than doubled to 6,000 as the crisis in the country deepens.
In the capital Bangui there have been an estimated 450 killings in the past week and 160 in other parts of the former French colony as security forces try to disarm former rebels.
“There are too many weapons around. We don’t know how to live we are in a country at war and we don’t know what to do,” said one woman in Bangui.
At the capital’s airport a British Royal Air Force transport aircraft unloaded military equipment to the French and African forces. It was the second such delivery. Earlier the US completed an airlift of Burundian troops.
The military movement comes amid a warning from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating.
A spokesman said there are 38,000 people at the airport without toilet and washing facilities and added there was no shelter from the rain and sun.
The UNHCR has appealed for humanitarian access to the areas of need.