The top United Nations refugee official has called for the early deployment of a new peacekeeping force in Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) authorized to protect civilians and facilitate the provision of aid amid a “very difficult and serious” humanitarian situation.
Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), welcomed yesterday’s adoption of a Security Council resolution establishing the multi-dimensional UN Mission in Chad and CAR (MINURCAT), which will include European Union military forces, to help alleviate the plight of thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan.
Since 2004, eastern Chad has hosted some 240,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps who have fled the fighting in Darfur, UNHCR reported in a press release. The country is also facing a surge in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), now totalling more than 170,000. North-eastern CAR is hosting some 2,660 refugees from Darfur.
Mr. Guterres said improving the security of the refugees, IDPs and other civilians in danger and facilitating the delivery of aid will greatly contribute to stabilizing the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and may encourage the return of displaced persons.
In that regard, he appealed to international partners to provide recovery and development assistance so that the displaced can return and restart their lives, given the heavy burden the people of Chad and CAR bear.
The UNHCR chief looked forward to an early decision of the EU to send military troops so that MINURCAT can deploy in the coming weeks.
In addition to the EU military component, the Mission will also consist of a UN presence composed of UN police, rule of law, human rights and other civilian officers, as well as a special Chadian police unit devoted exclusively to maintaining law and order in refugee camps and areas with large numbers of displaced in the eastern part of the country.
The Security Council has already authorized deployment of a 26,000-strong joint UN-African Union force (to be known as UNAMID) to suppress ongoing violence in Darfur, which has had a spillover effect on the region.