France on Tuesday handed over 1 400 AK-47 assault rifles and three amphibious vehicles to the Central African Republic (CAR) to shore up its beleaguered armed forces.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly oversaw the handover at a ceremony at M’Polo military base in the capital Bangui.

The military aid was announced in Paris in November, along with 24 million euros ($27.4 million) in civilian assistance.

One of the world’s poorest nations, the CAR has struggled to recover from a 2013 civil war that erupted when President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

In response, Christians, who account for about 80% of the population, organised vigilante units dubbed “anti-Balaka” in reference to the balaka machetes used by Seleka rebels.

Thousands of people have died in the violence, 700 000 have been internally displaced and another 570 000 have fled abroad.

With the armed forces hampered by poor training and lack of equipment, the UN-backed central government controls only a fraction of the country’s territory.

In 2013, the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo and it remains in place on Tuesday.

Exemptions are made for weapons shipments for the security forces that gain pre-approval from a UN sanctions committee.

The panel is tasked with ensuring that imported weapons do not end up in the hands of the militias in the corruption-prone country.