(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Gov’t wants police not troops

Chad’s foreign minister has said in a statement that his country will only accept civilian police, not a peacekeeping force.

Djidda Moussa Outman’s statement released in Chad’s capital, N’djamena, on Wednesday followed a meeting between the minister and representatives of the five United Nations Security Council members.

A UN report describing ways for the UN to protect civilians and refugees in Chad was presented to the Security Council last week and passed to Chad’s government on 6 February. Referring to the report, which was released publicly on Monday, Outman said:

“The goal of the meeting was to reaffirm the position of Chad concerning sending an international peacekeeping force to our country, notably following information of a force of 6,000 to 11,000 men.”

“There was never any question of accepting some military force on the border in the east. But rather a deployment of civilian forces composed of gendarmes and police, with the goal of securing the camps for Sudanese refugees, displaced people and humanitarians working in the region,” Outman said.

The assessment mission’s report recommended an advance mission be based in N’djamena to assist in protecting at-risk civilians, including refugees and displaced Chadians, and maintain law and order in the camps, which hold 220,000 people.

With 35 soldiers and 39 UN police officers, the mission would also focus on deterring cross-border attacks from Sudan through its presence.

The report then presented two options for deployment of between 6,000 and 11,000 troops, including plans for air support.

Diplomats and analysts in New York have warned that serious logistical and financial obstacles will have to be overcome before the UN Security Council can send peacekeepers to Chad.

The same analysts were already warning last month that Chad’s government could prove to be the biggest spoiler.

According to the assessment mission’s report, 120,000 Chadians have been forced out of their homes by inter-communal violence in eastern Chad, coupled with cross-border attacks by militias based in Sudan.

Humanitarian agencies working in the 12 refugee camps housing Darfur refugees have been calling for better protection for over a year. Many parts of the eastern region have become off-limits due to frequent hijackings and attacks on aid workers, and an ongoing war between Chadian army loyalists and anti-government rebels has frequently spilled over.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said the camps are not properly protected by the Chadian government and some have become safe-havens for armed rebels fighting the government in Sudan.

Meanwhile, human rights watchdogs and the UN have warned of worsening inter-communal violence in Chad and militia attacks from Sudan in the remote border region, which forced 28,000 people out of their homes just in December and January.


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