The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Chad, which also has a mandate for the Central African Republic (CAR), said today that the force is handing over its tasks to local military units that will assume security responsibilities in Chad when blue helmets leave at the end of this year.
“By the end of this month, all administrative tasks will be transferred to the DIS [the UN-trained Détachement intégré de sécurité],” said Youssef Mahmoud, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT), in a briefing to the Security Council.
By the end of the year, the training of 200 new recruits will be completed and DIS strength will reach 1,000, he said.
MINURCAT was set up by the Security Council in 2007 to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan.
The Council voted in May to end the mission by 31 December, after the Chadian Government requested the move and said it would assume full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory.
On Friday, MINURCAT’s military suspended all of its operation activities and the mission began its final withdrawal from Chad. “Every effort is being made to complete this withdrawal by 31 December,” Mr. Mahmoud said today.
On the situation in neighbouring CAR, he voiced concern that with MINURCAT’s imminent withdrawal, the security situation in the north-east of the country remains volatile, while the Government’s capacity to maintain security in the area was limited.
He said assailants suspected to be insurgents of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had attacked the town of Birao as recently as 10 October, looting from residents and abducting 19 people, four of whom remain in captivity to date. Of the six abductees who escaped last, two 19-year-old women were raped.
To avoid a security vacuum after MINURCAT’s departure, all must be done to help CAR’s Government to deploy additional troops to Birao, Mr. Mahmoud told the Council.
In his latest report on MINURCAT, the Secretary-General noted that the overall security situation in north-eastern CAR continues to suffer from inter-ethnic conflict, banditry and cross-border criminal activity. He outlined two options on how to mitigate the impact of MINURCAT’s departure in the area.
The first option provides for a UN peacekeeping force in north-eastern CAR which would deter insecurity in the area and provide security for humanitarian actors until the Government has developed adequate capacity.
The second option focuses on strengthening efforts to build State capacities for ensuring security and the rule of law, coupled with immediate measures to strengthen the capabilities of the national armed forces in the north-east.
Based on his assessment of the situation and the position of the CAR Government, Mr. Ban said he believed the second option is the most appropriate course of action.
Mr. Mahmoud said today that the Chadian Government was assuming its responsibility for the protection of civilians, but noted that notwithstanding the improved security, “the humanitarian situation in Chad remains of concern.”
Currently, eight UN bodies and 70 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are in Chad to help and protect 262,000 Sudanese refugees, 68,000 others from CAR, as wells as 168,000 internally displaced persons, 48,000 returnees and an estimated 150,000 members of the host communities.