The UN Security Council has given the go-ahead for troops to be sent to Central African Republic to protect a UN political mission in the country.

A senior aid official said half the country's 4.6 million people need humanitarian assistance as armed groups incite Christian and Muslim communities against each other, instilling widespread fear.         

The landlocked, mineral-rich nation has slipped into chaos since rebels seized the capital Bangui and ousted the president in March.

UN officials and rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.