|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5976th Meeting* (AM)
SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AND CHAD SITUATION REMAINS FRAGILE,
EFFECTIVE INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE NEEDED WHEN EUROPEAN UNION FORCE DEPARTS
Because the situation in the Central African Republic and Chad remained fragile, it was important to keep an effective international presence in the region when the European Union force, known as EUFOR, departed next year, Victor da Silva Angelo, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, told the Security Council in a briefing this morning.
There had been no significant progress in implementation of agreements between Chad and rebel groups, relations between Chad and Sudan remained tense and the north-eastern Central African Republic remained volatile, said Mr. Angelo, who is also the head of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).
The impact of MINURCAT’s presence was already visible, however, although deployment would not be completed until December, he continued. There was excellent cooperation with EUFOR, United Nations agencies, the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic and other partners.
He said that, as of 18 September, the civilian part of the Mission had been deployed in all sectors and the Mission continued to deploy police and other personnel as premises were being built. In addition, it continued to cooperate closely with Chadian authorities to speed up deployment of Integrated Security Detachment (Détachement Intégré de Sécurity, or DIS) officers in the field.
In addition, he said, progress was being made in the rule of law and local governance projects, and human rights officers from MINURCAT had investigated cases of human rights violations, particularly gender-based violence against internally displaced persons and refugees, and the recruitment of children.
In the transition from the EUFOR presence to a possibly enhanced MINURCAT, he said the Mission and EUFOR would take the necessary measures to prevent a security vacuum, he said. In order for that to take place smoothly, the transfer to United Nations personnel of all existing EUFOR sites would be extremely helpful.
An added military component for MINURCAT, he cautioned, would only be effective if the Mission had the mandate to cooperate with different Chad actors on the underlying causes of the instability that hindered the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The needs and role of the force had to be thoroughly assessed.
Following Mr. Angelo’s presentation, the Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic and the representative of Chad made brief statements. The Central African Republic’s Minister, Dieudonné Kombo Yaya, said that MINURCAT had great potential for establishing stability in its area of operations if properly developed, adding that it was important that the Council make decisions now on the transition from EUFOR. His Government had made progress in many areas. The calm that existed now was welcome, but consolidation required further international assistance.
Chad’s representative pledged his Government’s cooperation with the international community in its efforts to assist refugees and displaced persons and bolster stability in the eastern part of his country. Before a military component of MINURCAT was authorized, however, he stressed that his country should be consulted to a much greater degree, so it did not feel that its “hand was being forced”. MINURCAT was supported by the Government; it was a question of maintaining the Mission in the best possible conditions. Even if it was not a peacekeeping mission, it could still provide deterrence.
The meeting opened at 11 a.m. and closed at 11:50 a.m.
The Security Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (document S/2008/601), which proposes that the Security Council consider sending 6,000 United Nations troops to replace a European Union force in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic, which have both been wracked by violence and civilian displacement in recent years.
The mandate of the European Union’s military force, known as EUFOR, is set to expire on 15 March 2009, and currently comprises 3,300 troops, the report notes, saying that the Blue Helmets who would take their place will require an “over the horizon” capability to be able to deploy quickly “should the security situation rise to levels beyond the capacity of a United Nations force”, especially during the transition period.
The Secretary-General says the Council should leave any resolution authorizing this new force in draft form until the world body has firm guarantees on troop contributions and other support from Member States. He notes that, while insecurity and instability in the two nations are spurred by many factors, positive steps have been taken towards bolstering peace and stability.
The report adds that regional and local tensions, poverty, weak institutions and poor infrastructure compound the difficulties faced by local authorities in finding peaceful and sustainable mechanisms to address the causes and consequences of insecurity and violence. In eastern Chad, carjackings, armed robberies and crime targeting both national and international humanitarian staff continues, impeding their ability to help the nearly 300,000 refugees and almost 200,000 internally displaced persons in the area.
In the face of such difficulties, progress has still been made since the last report of 8 July in both Chad and the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General says, commending the leaders of the two countries. He urges the Government of Chad to continue to take bold and decisive steps to bring immediate protection to civilians at risk, end any support provided on its territory to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Sudan and offer the armed opposition a viable mechanism to address their grievances without resort to arms. It must also end the impunity of human rights violators.
The report notes that the United Nations Mission, known as MINURCAT, has taken steps in the reporting period to expand its political and civil affairs presence, and is also working to increase its promotion and protection of human rights.
VICTOR DA SILVA ANGELO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINURCAT, introduced the Secretary-General’s report, which covered the main developments on security and humanitarian development. It also presented conclusions of the United Nations-European Union midterm review of the implementation of Council resolution 1778 (2007) and gave recommendations on a possible United Nations presence after the mandate for EUFOR expired on 15 March 2009.
He said the situation in eastern Chad remained fragile with some progress at the political front, as eight additional parties had signed the 13 August 2007 agreement on electoral reforms. Implementation of the agreement, however, was limited. There had been no significant progress in implementation of the 25 October 2007 Cirte Agreement between Chad and the rebel groups. Instability could increase towards the end of the upcoming rainy season.
Relations between Chad and Sudan had remained tense, he said. The contact group established by the 13 March Dakar Agreement had met on 12 September and produced some positive results. Chad and Sudan had agreed to reopen embassies before the contact group met again. A dialogue must now take place at the highest level to continue the momentum, and the international community must stand ready to support the process.
He said eastern Chad had received 290,000 refugees and 180,000 internally displaced persons. Their voluntary return had been delayed by a lack of social services, among other things, but mainly because of a lack of security. MINURCAT had started to provide security to the humanitarian community, but protection of civilians remained a concern, as villages were being attacked regularly with impunity. Vulnerable groups, in particular women and children, were the most affected. Refugee camps in eastern Chad were allegedly used by rebel groups for rest, as well as for forced recruitment, mainly of children.
In the Central African Republic, the security situation in the Vakaga region in the north-eastern part of the country remained volatile, he said. The presence of MINURCAT and EUFOR had encouraged the Government to strengthen its administrative presence in the area, but the situation remained fragile. Access to the Sam Oundja refugee camp remained problematic and humanitarian convoys were often being attacked.
He said that, as of 18 September, MINURCAT had 768 people deployed out of 1,549 authorized. The civilian part of the Mission had been deployed in all sectors. The Mission continued to deploy police and other personnel as premises were being built. Although deployment would not be completed until December, the impact of MINURCAT’s presence was already visible. There was excellent cooperation with the United Nations agencies, the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic and other partners.
The Mission continued to cooperate closely with Chad authorities to speed up deployment of Integrated Security Detachment (Détachement Intégré de Security, or DIS) officers in the field. 318 DIS officers had already been trained and UN police and DIS officers had recently carried out reconnaissance missions. Currently, there were 72 DIS officers on the ground, supervised by United Nations and police military liaison officers from MINURCAT.
He said the rule of law programme was being carried out in cooperation with local authorities to strengthen judicial facilities and harmonize traditional justice systems with modern judicial systems. Quick impact projects were being implemented aimed at strengthening local governance institutions. Human rights officers from MINURCAT had investigated cases of human rights violations, particularly gender based violence against internally displaced persons and refugees, and the recruitment of children.
Addressing the transition from the EUFOR presence to a possible MINURCAT II presence, he said the Mission and EUFOR would take the necessary measures to prevent a security vacuum during the transition period. The transfer to United Nations personnel of all existing EUFOR sites would be extremely helpful for a smooth handover. It would be crucial for the Mission’s success that it enjoy total freedom of movement. The Government of Chad had fully fulfilled its commitments regarding freedom of movement.
The expansion of MINURCAT could include a military component. That component, however, would not be effective if the Mission did not have the mandate to cooperate with different Chad actors on the underlying causes of the instability and insecurity that hindered the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons. If the Council were to authorize a force to replace EUFOR -- as requested by the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic, as well as by humanitarian actors -- the needs and role of the force had to be thoroughly assessed.
In conclusion, he showed some photographs depicting the activities of the Mission.
DIEUDONNÉ KOMBO YAYA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, supporting the recommendations of Mr. Angelo and the Secretary-General, said that MINURCAT had great potential to establish stability in its area of operations, if properly developed. He added that it was important that the Council make decisions now on the transition from EUFOR.
He said his Government had made progress in public finance, security sector reform, good governance, reintegration of ex-combatants and other areas. That progress must be consolidated and worked on further. For those ends, given the fragility of his country’s security and development, it was necessary that a United Nations military contingent be deployed in the northern part of the country after the mandate of EUFOR ended. The calm that existed now was welcome, but should not be allowed to be endangered, and humanitarian workers must be protected.
AHMAD ALLAM-MI ( Chad) pledged his Government’s cooperation with the international community in its efforts to assist refugees and displaced persons and bolster stability in the eastern part of his country. At first, there had
been some speculation that his Government did not like EUFOR because of its political neutrality, but that was not the case. EUFOR had a very clear and specific mandate. The fact that it could not achieve its goals and that attacks on humanitarian workers occurred, however, was not the fault of his Government. It was most important to protect people from violence, but he was not certain if that was really happening.
He said his Government had been accused of supporting Sudanese insurgents, because rebels were seen walking around in the protected zone. Chad was not supporting those rebels. It was important that the United Nations mission be neutral and not be a political mission. His country was trying to build the rule of law and democracy, but the term democratic opposition was not always used appropriately in regard to Chad’s situation.
He said he wanted more consultations between the United Nations and Chad on the development of the military mission, so that the concept of MINURCAT could be defined together, without the feeling that Chad’s “hand was being forced”. The operation was supported by the Government and was useful for the populations concerned. It was a question of maintaining the Mission in the best possible conditions. There was a deterrent aspect to the Mission, even if it could not be called peacekeeping.
Turning to relations with Sudan, he said that, since the Dakar conference, Chad had accepted the reestablishment of political relations, which Sudan had previously broken off. His country was available to help its brothers in Sudan with its problems in Darfur, and he hoped that, in turn, the instability of eastern Chad would cease.
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* The 5975th Meeting was closed.