The Security Council today voted to end the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Chad and the Central African Republic by the end of the year, with a military withdrawal starting this week, after the Government requested the move despite concerns that it could impair aid to some 430,000 people.
In a unanimous resolution, the Council ordered that the military component of the UN mission in the CAR and Chad (known as MINURCAT) be reduced from its current 3,300 troops to 2,200 military personnel – 1,900 in Chad and 300 in the CAR – by 15 July. Withdrawal of the remaining troops will begin on 15 October, and all military and civilian personnel are to be withdrawn by 31 December.
The resolution was in line with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s recommendations in his latest report, and he welcomed today’s vote, stressing that under the new mandate, Chad assumes full responsibility for protecting civilians as MINURCAT starts withdrawing its military on Friday.
The mission was set up over two years ago amid increasing unrest in eastern Chad, which hosts at least 250,000 refugees from neighbouring Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region and 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) driven from their homes by inter-communal unrest. The CAR, particularly in the northeast, has also been troubled by violent unrest.
But with new agreements on border security between Chad and Sudan, and with the Chadian Government stating that MINURCAT was not strong enough to provide complete security, the Government said in February that it felt it was better for Chadian forces to take over. Earlier this month Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said he was “extremely worried” about the potential impact of a withdrawal on the civilians that the UN has been trying to help in eastern Chad.
Today, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said the new mandate will allow MINURCAT’s civilian component to work with the Government to consolidate gains achieved so far and help it to develop plans for their sustainability after 31 December.
In its resolution, the Council stressed that the Government has committed to ensure the security and protection of all refugees and IDPs, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, and work towards the voluntary return and secure resettlement of IDPs and the demilitarization of refugee and IDP camps.
During its remaining months, MINURCAT will help support Chadian police forces, primarily the UN-trained Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS), in taking over security responsibilities, assist in relocating refugee camps that are close to the Chadian-Sudanese border, and liaise with national and regional authorities on banditry and emerging threats to humanitarian activities.
The mission will also assist in resolving local tensions and protecting human rights, with particular attention to sexual and gender-based violence. Moreover, it is authorized, in consultations with the Chadian Government where possible, to respond to imminent threats of violence to civilians in its immediate vicinity.
In CAR, MINURCAT is to contribute to the creation of a more secure environment in the north-eastern region of Birao and to aid UN personnel and humanitarian workers in danger.