United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in N’Djamena from Khartoum on Friday, 7 September.
The focus of the Secretary-General’s visit to Chad was to move forward with the Government on plans for an international military and police presence which would protect refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad; to seek direct support of the Government since it is an important regional player in ensuring that all parties participate in the Darfur peace talks to be held in Libya in October; and to draw attention to the problem of desertification through a visit to the shrinking Lake Chad.
Shortly upon arrival, the Secretary-General heard a briefing by United Nations agencies on the ground in Chad on the humanitarian situation, in particular that of more than 400,000 refugees and displaced persons along the Chad-Sudan border.
The Secretary-General then went to the Presidential Palace to meet President Idriss Déby Itno.
After a lunch hosted by the President, the Secretary-General received an aerial tour of the shrinking Lake Chad by helicopter and visited the lakeside village of Bol, where he met with the governor.
He told reporters accompanying him, “This is an example of how seriously and negatively global warming affects and impacts our environment and our lives. I was sad to see that Lake Chad, which was once so vast, measuring 25,000 square kilometres some 40 years ago, has shrunken to [about 2,500] square kilometres.”
He said the shrinking lake was a vivid example and illustration of how the mismanagement of the ecosystem and the movement of mass population can affect our livelihoods.
Upon return, the Secretary-General held a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi, during which the latter read the joint communiqué that confirmed support for the African Union-United Nations-led Darfur peace negotiations talks and the international military and police presence for eastern Chad.
The Secretary-General then met with opposition leaders at his hotel before attending a dinner hosted by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, a key forum for coordination of humanitarian assistance involving the key United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian partners.
Early on Saturday, the Secretary-General left the Chadian capital for Sirte, Libya.