|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6204th Meeting (AM)
United Nations Mission in Central African Republic, Chad Continues to Build
Confidence in Region, Balancing Deployment Delays with Solid Progress
Briefing Security Council, Senior Peacekeeping Official Also Says Efforts
To Normalize Chad-Sudan Relations Must Address Conflicts in Both Countries
Despite challenges, the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) had continued to build confidence through a series of high-profile operations to deter criminality and provide a security umbrella for the protection of civilians and various processes under way on the ground, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet told the Security Council today.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on the work of the Mission, Mr. Mulet told the Security Council that in Chad, MINURCAT continued to train, advise and back the Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS), as well as the Chadian police force charged with maintaining law and order in the camps for refugees and displaced persons and the main villages in the east. The Mission also continued creating a secure environment for humanitarian activities.
For those activities, as well for new programmes in the fields of the justice and penitentiary sector, he said the MINURCAT Trust Fund would require $21.7 million for 2010. Noting that pledges for $14.5 million had been made during a donor conference on 2 October in Brussels, Belgium, he urged Council members to assist in generating the remaining $7.2 million.
He said that MINURCAT support for DIS remained essential for the attainment of the Mission’s mandated goals, in particular the strengthening of Chadian capacities to ensure the safety of refugees, displaced persons, civilians and humanitarian workers, to maintain law and order and to ensure respect for human rights. The fact that DIS was now deployed meant that MINURCAT’s efforts focused on training and capacity-building. MINURCAT and the Government of Chad would soon reach the critical stage of transition to national ownership and financing of DIS. The backing of the international community would remain essential during that transition.
As of 19 October, MINURCAT comprised 2,750 troops, 53 per cent of its authorized strength, he said. Although everything was being done to expedite deployment of all pledged contingents, some troop-contributing countries had experienced difficulties in acquisition and transport of equipment. In some cases, deployment of the MINURCAT force had also been delayed as a result of legal matters, including disputes over the payment of taxes on goods and supplies imported by MINURCAT contractors or provided by troop-contributing countries under “Letter of Assist” arrangements. On 15 October, however, the Government of Chad and MINURCAT had signed an addendum to the status-of-forces agreement to incorporate the military component. He hoped that, now, past disputes regarding charges inconsistent with the status-of-forces agreement would not be replicated.
Improved coordination among DIS, national police and gendarmerie also enhanced security for humanitarian efforts, he said, adding that on 17 October, a campaign to combat gender-based violence had been launched in Chad. He remained concerned, however, by unconfirmed reports, denied by the Government of Chad, of the ongoing presence of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forces in north-eastern border areas, and similar reports of Chadian armed opposition groups on the Sudanese side of the border.
He was encouraged, on the other hand, by the joint statement of Chad and Sudan of 11 October stressing a desire to restore confidence between the two countries. In recent days, President Idriss Déby had also publicly committed to working with Sudan on a number of confidence-building measures. That dialogue had been encouraged by mediators, and Chad’s stated intention to relocate the Oure Cassoni refugee camp away from the border was also welcome.
Progress to normalize relations between the two countries, he reiterated, must be matched by efforts to address the internal conflicts prevailing in both, and he welcomed in that context progress toward elections in Chad, to which a needs-assessment mission had been sent in late August by the Department of Political Affairs in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which would shortly begin discussions with the Government on the electoral process.
He encouraged the Government of Chad and its political opposition to fully implement governance aspects of the 13 August agreement sponsored by the European Union towards the transparent functioning of the administration, judicial and military institutions. He also called on armed groups in Chad to relinquish arms and for all parties to work towards comprehensive national reconciliation.
Finally, he said that the situation in the north-east of the Central African Republic had somewhat stabilized since his last briefing to the Council, but it remained unpredictable. He encouraged the Central African Government to redouble its efforts to facilitate inter-community dialogue and begin a credible disarmament process in the region.
At the outset of his briefing, Mr. Mulet confirmed the sad news that the Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), Brigadier General Ahmed Moinuddin, who had been shot in Islamabad, had died.
The meeting started at 11:10 a.m. and adjourned at 11:21 a.m.
The Security Council had before it the quarterly report of the Secretary‑General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) (document S/2009/535) on the security and humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic, the implementation of relevant agreements and the status of refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as on the activities of the Mission, since mid-July.
According to the report, important steps were made in Chad for the holding of elections, including the agreement by parties to accept the results of the general population census and the establishment of the Electoral Commission. On 25 July, the Chad Government and the Mouvement national signed a peace agreement in Tripoli. Approximately 1,500 combatants associated with Chadian armed groups reportedly relinquished their arms. The coalition Union des forces de la resistance (UFR), however, remained outside the framework of any peace agreement. The security situation in Chad improved, but tensions between Chad and the Sudan remained high, with no progress made towards implementing the Dakar or Doha commitments.
During the reporting period, the security situation in the Vakaga region of the north-eastern Central African Republic stabilized, but remained unpredictable, characterized by sporadic inter-ethnic clashes and weak State institutions. The Government carried out additional efforts aimed at restoring its authority in the region and fostering intercommunity dialogue. On 13 August, President François Bozizé launched a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration sensitization campaign across the country. The MINURCAT military force conducted extensive patrols of Birao and its vicinity to reassure the local population and assist the civilian authorities. It also extended its radius in Sanm Ouandja, in the Haute-Kotto department.
As of 15 September, the total strength of the MINURCAT force stood at 2,665 troops, 51 per cent of the authorized strength of 5,225. The bulk of formed combat and support-enabling units have yet to arrive. The lack of force enablers in theatre, specifically the force reserve battalion, air medical evacuation teams and signal and engineer units, also continued to hamper achievement of full operational capacity. The force conducted a series of high-profile operations to deter criminality and banditry, and provide a security umbrella for humanitarian activity. Those operations enabled the force to create conditions for humanitarian assistance during the rainy season.
The Secretary-General observes that the rainy season brought a much needed reprieve from the cycle of confrontations between Chadian armed groups and the Governments, and provided the nascent Détachement intégré de sécirty (DIS) and MINURCAT with a period to enhance their capacity to support humanitarian efforts. Sustained engagement by the Chadian Government and its partners is essential to meeting the benchmarks for the withdrawal of MINURCAT. The Government and its partners will need to enhance national capacity for the protection of civilians and to resolve the causes of armed conflict in the subregion, including tensions between Sudan and Chad, fighting between rebels and Government forces in Chad and Darfur, and localized sources of conflict between ethnic groups.
According to the report, long-term peace and stability of the region depends primarily on resolving the internal conflicts in both the Sudan and Chad. In Chad, progress is needed on governance reform. The absence of a comprehensive process of national reconciliation continues to limit prospects for stability in Chad. In that regard, it is vital that all Chadian armed opposition groups renounce the military solution and are brought into a meaningful political process with the Government. The proliferation of arms, tribal disputes and border tensions continue to plague eastern Chad. It is therefore essential that the Government of Chad double its efforts to address sources of insecurity such as the root causes of inter-ethnic strife and the proliferation of weapons.
The Secretary-General notes that, while the MINURCAT force will soon be enhanced by the arrival of new troops, the achievement of full operational capability depends on the full and timely deployment of all troops and enablers. Regrettably, pledges for 11 of the 18 required utility helicopters have still not been received. Stating that the military concept of operations requires that MINURCAT possess an expeditionary capability for force projection, for which helicopters capable of all-weather day and night operations are vital, he urges Member States to do everything possible to assist in filling those gaps.
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