The US envoy to the United Nations Samantha Power flew into Central African Republic Thursday on a surprise visit to urge its leaders to help end the violence, warning the people there were "in profound danger."
Power is the highest-level US official to visit Central Africa, which has plunged into brutal anarchy with inter-religious violence that has killed hundreds of people.
Power, who before joining the US administration was a journalist and vocal human rights activist, said American leaders were "deeply disturbed" by the brutality which has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes.
"The people in Central African Republic are in profound danger, and we all have a responsibility which we must meet to help them move away from the abyss," she told reporters on Wednesday.
She was speaking on a conference call from Abuja, where she stopped en route for talks with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, with part of the meeting focusing on how Nigeria can help a French-African Union force deploying in CAR.
During her brief eight-hour stay accompanied by Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Power was to meet transitional president Michel Djotodia as well as top Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
"All of those actors in CAR who have influence must use it, and use their voices to try to help ease the fears... and restore calm," she said.
She was to urge the nation's leaders to back the UN-mandated stabilisation force known as MISCA as it disarms militias and to "explore every avenue to ensure proper and full implementation" of a roadmap towards elections in 2015.