The Security Council today welcomed this weekend’s successful transfer of authority from European forces to United Nations peacekeepers in the war-torn nations of Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR).
The UN Mission in the two countries, known as MINURCAT, took over the military and security responsibilities of European forces (EUFOR) at midnight local time on Sunday.
In a press statement read out by Ibrahim Dabbashi of Libya, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month, the 15-member body commended the European Union (EU) for its support to UN activities in eastern Chad and north-eastern CAR.
The statement also lauded the EU’s contribution “to the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance and the security and stability in its area of operation.”
In January, the Council approved the deployment of over 5,500 blue helmets – 300 police officers, 25 military liaison officers and 5,200 military personnel – with MINURCAT to replace EUFOR, which has been in place since March 2008.
Currently, the Mission is composed of some 300 uniformed personnel, mostly police, plus some 325 international civilians.
Eastern Chad faces an acute humanitarian challenge with over 290,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur war, more than 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a further 700,000 individuals among host communities in need of food, water and health care. Northern CAR has also been affected by a spill-over from the Darfur conflict as well as by other armed groups.
The transfer of authority was marked by a ceremony, attended by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, in the Chadian town of Abéché, where MINURCAT is headquartered.
During the event, EUFOR Force Commander General Philippe Ganascia handed over command to MINURCAT General Elhadji Mouhamadou Kandji.
Troops from countries such as Albania, Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Ireland, Poland, and Russia were re-hatted, while troops from Togo and Ghana have recently arrived to take up their duties. Malawi, Namibia, Nepal, Norway and Uruguay, among other nations, have committed to sending troops to MINURCAT.
Today’s Council statement welcomed contributions made by UN Member States to MINURCAT’s military and police personnel, and also expressed its satisfaction for the completion of the deployment of the MINURCAT-trained Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS), a special unit composed of Chadian police and gendarmes responsible for the protection of refugees and IDPs in eastern Chad.
It also stressed “the importance a further improvement of regional relations, in particular between Sudan and Chad.”
On Sunday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he is “confident” that MINURCAT “will build upon and strengthen EUFOR's military achievements while continuing to execute the full range of its mandated tasks, including to contribute to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law and to support the development of the [DIS] deployed in eastern Chad,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.