Chad today deplored the delay in deploying the full United Nations peacekeeping mission to its eastern border with Sudan, where the spill-over from the Darfur conflict is undermining already precarious socio-economic development and has led to the recruitment of child soldiers by various armed groups.
“It is more than imperative that the parties concerned in this mission redouble their efforts to make up for this delay, whose prolongation constitutes a daily danger for the people we are all responsible for protecting,” Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat told the General Assembly.
He pledged his country’s full support for the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), whose mandate includes creating a more secure environment and relocating refugee camps in eastern Chad away from the border with Sudan. At present MINURCAT has only some 2,350 troops, less than half its mandated maximum of 5,200.
He stressed that Chad is collaborating closely with the UN to find a solution to the Darfur crisis where more than six years of fighting between the Sudanese Government, militia allies and rebels have killed some 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million others, with over 200,000 of them as refugees in eastern Chad.
“Whatever MINURCAT’s efforts or my country’s efforts to provide security for camps of refugees and the displaced, the real solution to the Darfur crisis can only be political to allow refugees and displaced to return to their homeland,” he added, calling it totally erroneous to believe that Chad was feeding the Darfur conflict by supporting Sudanese rebels.
Mr. Mahamat said the fighting had given rise to “the phenomenon” of child soldiers. “During different campaign Chad’s national army has managed to recover hundreds of children who have been handed over to the care of UNICEF (UN Children’s Fund) to reintegrate them in civilian life,” he told the Assembly on the fifth day of its 64th annual General Debate.
“An inspection and sensitization campaign has recently been launched in various barracks in the country in collaboration with UNICEF and certain diplomatic missions in N’Djamena (the capital) to prevent this phenomenon and eradicate it where it exists.”