At Half-Strength, UN Mission in Central African Republic, Chad Has Limited Ability to Execute Military Concept, Offer Safety to Aid Workers, Security Council Told
At Half-Strength, UN Mission in Central African Republic, Chad Has Limited Ability to Execute Military Concept, Offer Safety to Aid Workers, Security Council Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6172nd Meeting (AM)
AT HALF-STRENGTH, UN MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, CHAD HAS LIMITED ABILITY
TO EXECUTE MILITARY CONCEPT, OFFER SAFETY TO AID WORKERS, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Once fully deployed, the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) would be sure to make a difference, the top United Nations official on the ground told the Security Council today.
Updating the Council on the developments since authority was transferred from the European Union-led EUFOR bridge force to the United Nations on 15 March, Victor Da Silva Angelo, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), said that the Force now stood at 46 per cent of its mandated strength. Its slow deployment had limited its ability to effectively execute the military concept of operations and to provide the required safe environment for humanitarian workers, refugees, internally displaced and vulnerable persons, he said.
The Secretary-General, in the report before the Council today, stated that in order for MINURCAT to achieve its full force projection and capability, pledges were urgently needed to provide it with needed “enablers”, including 14 of the 18 required military helicopters. While encouraged by recent pledges of troops to replace those departing the Mission, the Secretary-General was also concerned by delays in deployment, which risked creating security gaps. He encouraged Member States to assist troop-contributing countries in acquiring the necessary equipment and expediting the deployment of their contingents.
Along with achievements of the new MINURCAT force and progress on the deployment of the Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS) ‑‑ essentially, a community policing force ‑‑ the Secretary-General’s Special Representative also reported a number of negative developments today, saying that the brief rebel incursion in eastern Chad in May and the fighting that ensued with Government forces had exacerbated the security situation in eastern Chad and opened a fresh opportunity for banditry, which undermined the achievements of EUFOR and MINURCAT. The incursion also contributed to the proliferation of small arms.
Also reported in the document was further deterioration of relations between the Governments of Chad and the Sudan following the incursion in eastern Chad. The Dakar process had been at a standstill since November 2008, when the Contact Group met for the last time. The signing of the 3 May Doha agreement by Chad and the Sudan offered renewed hope for the normalization of relations, but those hopes were quickly frustrated.
Mr. Angelo said that the relationship between Chad and the Sudan had a critical impact on the situation on both sides of the border. There was an urgent need to de-escalate the situation and resume diplomatic initiatives. The Mission was liaising closely with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and was in contact with the Dakar process member states to identify confidence-building measures prior to the meeting of the Contact Group. The rainy season was a window of opportunity for renewed political engagement between Chad and the Sudan, and he encouraged the parties to use that chance to revive the process, including implementation of the border verification mechanism.
On the Central African Republic, he said that the situation in the Vakaga region in the north-east of the country had been extremely insecure over the last three months and remained of serious concern as armed groups and bandits continued to operate in the area. The Mission was now fully deployed in the mandated area of operations there, but the gravity of the situation went beyond its capacity to respond.
Members of the Council who spoke following the briefing reiterated their strong support for MINURCAT, which was operating in a difficult environment. They also expressed grave concern over the tense situation on the ground and stressed the need to speed up the political process in the region, which could be facilitated by the Mission’s full deployment. They also welcomed the deployment of the DIS, which, they said, represented a novel approach to ensuring security in and around refugee and internally displaced persons’ camps. Concerns remained, however, with regard to DIS training and equipment. Recent attacks on members of those units had demonstrated the need to enhance their capacity. Several reported cases of their members’ misconduct also required proper attention.
Addressing the Council at the end of the debate, Chad’s representative emphasized his country’s determination to resolve its domestic problems, citing a recent agreement with the opposition on the legislative framework for the elections planned for 2010 among the achievements. An agreement had also been reached on the modalities for the establishment of the National Independent Electoral Commission. The launch of a demographic census was another positive step. He also remarked on the signing of an agreement last week with several hundred elements of armed groups that had come from the Sudan, in particular the Mouvement National of Ahmad Assabalah Soubianne.
Faced with the Sudanese aggression, his Government remained vigilant, he said. Contrary to the Sudan’s allegations, Chad was not violating its air space or attacking armed groups in Darfur. However, it had carried out air strikes against the forces that had arrived from the Sudan and were assembled along the Chadian side of the border; the international community could not reproach his country for exercising its legitimate right to self-defence. But his country was fully prepared to normalize its relations with the Sudan.
The representative of the Central African Republic stressed the need to restore the rule of law, saying that his Government recognized its primary responsibility to save the population from hostilities. There had been talks with rebel groups refusing to enter into reconciliation, and those talks would continue as long as they advanced disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, helped to meet humanitarian needs and promoted economic and social development.
He appealed for serious attention to the situation in the north-east region of the country, which formed a triangle of land with parts in the Sudan and Chad, keeping in mind the larger subregional context. Measures should be taken ‑‑ such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes ‑‑ to promote stability there. He sought assistance for MINURCAT to facilitate its deployment.
Statements were made by the representatives of France, Costa Rica, Burkina Faso, Russian Federation, Japan, Austria, United States, China, Viet Nam, Turkey, Libya, Mexico, United Kingdom, Croatia and Uganda (in his national capacity).
The meeting was called to order at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at 12:20 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Chad, the Central African Republic and the subregion, for which it had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (document S/2009/359).
Updating the Council on the latest developments, VICTOR DA SILVA ANGELO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), said that in the framework of the 13 August agreement, the Government of Chad and the democratic opposition had reached a consensus on the laws regulating the status of the opposition and the political parties’ charter. They had also agreed on the Electoral Code and the Commission Electorale Nationale Independante (CENI). Those agreements had allowed for serious progress in terms of the internal political process. Last week, 30 members and the Chairman of CENI had been sworn in. In the same vein, the Government had launched a general population census on 20 May, paving the way for voter registration and constituency delimitation, ahead of national elections. International support for the census also included some logistical assistance from MINURCAT. The results were due to be released shortly.
On the security situation, he said that on 4 May, Chadian armed opposition groups under the coalition of Union des Forces de la Resistance (UFR) had launched an attack on Chadian territory from the Sudan. The attack was repelled by the Armée Nationale Tchadienne (ANT) on 7 May, close to Am Dam, forcing the rebels to retreat. As a security measure, MINURCAT had relocated 77 aid workers from Koukou-Angarana to Boz Beida during the armed conflict and had significantly increased patrolling in all sectors. MINURCAT called on all parties to respect the humanitarian space.
Notwithstanding the Doha agreement signed on 4 May by the Governments of Chad and the Sudan, under the aegis of Qatar, the clashes in May had once again strained the relationship between the two countries, he continued. Despite statements by both countries expressing support for the Qatar efforts to end the current tension, new tensions had erupted recently. The relationship between Chad and the Sudan had a critical impact on the situation on both sides of the border. There was an urgent need to de-escalate the situation and resume diplomatic initiatives. The Mission was liaising closely with UNAMID and was in contact with the Dakar Process Member States to try to identify confidence-building measures prior to the forthcoming meeting of the Contact Group. The rainy season was providing a window of opportunity for renewed political engagement between Chad and the Sudan. The parties should use that chance to revive the process, including the implementation of the border verification mechanism.
On the Central African Republic, he said that the situation in the Vakaga region in the north-east of the country had been extremely insecure over the last three months and remained of serious concern as armed groups and bandits continued to operate in the area. On 6 and 21 June, armed men had attacked Birao town. At least 27 people were killed in the clashes and at least 60 per cent of the houses were burnt to the ground. Until today, large segments of the population had not returned to Birao. MINURCAT, in liaison with the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA), had maintained continuous contacts with the Government, with a view to convincing the national authorities to combine the MINURCAT’s military presence with strengthened presence of State officials and mediation efforts. The Mission was now fully deployed in the mandated area of operations, but the gravity of the situation went beyond its capacity to respond. On 1 July, the Government had sent a mediation delegation, headed by the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization. He had been accompanied by a BONUCA political officer and had received support from MINURCAT. Initial mediation had been successful, but needed to be sustained.
Humanitarian assistance in the Vakaga region was not taking place at this stage, owing to the insecurity, he said. The region required the sustained attention of both the Government and the international community. That included in the areas of Sam Oundja and Sikikede, which, for the moment, were effectively without a security presence and were home to refugee and displaced populations. MINURCAT also worked closely with the Government of the Central African Republic and the United Nations Country Team in Bangui to establish a humanitarian corridor to assist 16,600 refugees in Daha in southern Chad from the Central African Republic side of the border. The refugees had been impossible to reach from the Chadian side, due to impassable roads at this time of the year, but the establishment of the humanitarian corridor from the Central African Republic side had enabled a convoy of 23 vehicles to bring 265 tons of food to the refugees. MINURCAT had established a well-structured dialogue with the humanitarian community. Facilitated by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, that dialogue took place on a weekly basis.
Continuing, he remarked on a significant rise in crime, banditry and insecurity following the May clashes, which had once again reduced the humanitarian space in some areas of eastern Chad. As a temporary measure, MINURCAT had increased the number of escorts to ensure the continuation of humanitarian operations. Humanitarian staff had been included in the security and evacuation plans, and training had taken place at the local level to ensure a coordinated response. There had also been an increase in the number of small arms and unexploded ordnance. The MINURCAT Mine Action Unit, in coordination with the Centre Nationale de Deminage and non-governmental organizations, had undertaken an emergency clearance of major roads and areas of operation in the immediate vicinity of battle areas. During the past year, the Mine Action Unit had also verified 1,012 kilometres of roads, cleared and destroyed 10,349 explosive remnants of war and sensitized 214 communities. It would now deploy demining teams to priority areas of operations, in particular those identified as areas of return of internally displaced persons.
The Force now stood at 46 per cent of the mandated strength, he said. Its slow deployment had limited MINURCAT’s ability to effectively execute the military concept of operations and provide the required safe environment for humanitarian workers, refugees, internally displaced and vulnerable persons. As a temporary measure, the Force offered escorts to the humanitarian community. It had also implemented “Operation Pioneer” on 13-17 July, significantly increasing its presence in the field through foot patrols and troops in remote villages of potential returns of internally displaced persons. The Force also patrolled the main axes and made extensive use of rotary assets to reach areas otherwise inaccessible during the rainy season. Those preventive deployments had projected the Force in expeditionary operations. The exercise would be repeated with increasing frequency as the Force received more troops.
He also commented on the lack of rotary assets with enhanced night-flight capability, saying that as of today, the Mission only had 4 of the planned 18 utility helicopters. Bangladesh would deploy three Bell-212 utility helicopters, and planning was under way to deploy them by late 2009. No pledges for the remaining helicopters had been received. Should that unacceptable situation continue, it would be necessary to explore the possibility of acquiring those capabilities commercially. He meanwhile asked those already deployed to strengthen their presence and prolong their deployment.
Since October 2008, Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS) had conducted 3,000 security escorts, and arrested more than 90 people suspected of crimes against humanity and 56 individuals accused of armed robbery. The recuperation rate of hijacked vehicles now stood at 60 per cent compared to 10 per cent before DIS’ deployment. Currently, DIS carried out an average of 85 escorts and 240 patrols per week, considered “excellent” indicators of performance and motivation.
He said, however, that DIS risked becoming a target of armed opposition groups. It experienced a number of direct attacks during and after the incursion, with several casualties resulting, but MINURCAT and the Government had both agreed that DIS was a police force without a military mandate. Its primary scope was to protect and secure internally displaced persons, refugees, humanitarians and the local population.
At the same time, the United Nations police would intensify its in-service training of DIS officers and promote close cooperation between DIS and the judiciary. But logistical support by MINURCAT to DIS “remains a serious weakness” that was being addressed “with a great sense of urgency”. At present, DIS was funded on a voluntary basis by Member States. However, the trust fund was rapidly running out of funds and would be empty by October. He implored the Council for continued support for that element of the Mission, saying operating DIS for another year would cost $17.3 million.
Turning to the justice sector, he said MINURCAT was helping the Chadian Government to train civil servants to be deployed as Judges of Peace and Prosecutors in eastern Chad, in the absence of magistrates. In addition, MINURCAT, with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was facilitating the proceedings of mobile criminal courts, such as in Abéché and Am Timam. However, security of judicial authorities remained a constraint to the judges’ deployment. MINURCAT was also training prison staff in Iriba and Abéché. Additionally, it assisted in drafting laws, policies and procedures to support the Chadian Government in the establishment of a professional prison system. Those measures were presently pending the approval of Parliament. Nevertheless, the few existing prisons in eastern Chad were dilapidated and in urgent need of rehabilitation.
On human rights, he said MINURCAT continued to follow the implementation of Council resolutions 1612 (2005), 1820 (2008) and 1325 (2000). Eighty-four children were among the Chadian armed opposition group combatants captured during the May fighting and handed over to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for demobilization and reinsertion, confirming that child soldiers was a problem in Chad. Arbitrary and prolonged detention of both adults and minors were frequently documented. Gender-based violence, forced marriages and domestic violence were still reported. As part of a potentially wide security sector reform, a comprehensive programme of arms collection should be contemplated.
Turning to political and civil affairs, he said the Government and the European Commission had initiated an inter-community dialogue programme. On 30 June, tribal leaders of the Massalit and Zaghawa had agreed to address the issue of hindered return of the Massalit to their villages. The displaced ethnic group had now started to return, in time for the planting season. In a similar effort, on 15 July, Zaghawa and Asshongori communities had agreed to put a stop to their feud, enabling more than 1,000 Asshongori currently living in the Sudan to return to their villages of origin. Conducive return of internally displaced persons was a primary benchmark of MINURCAT’s strategic workplan, and required an approach for fighting impunity in eastern Chad, improving security and strengthening rule of law and civil administration.
He said the Government of the Central African Republic, on 13 June, had signed an amendment to the status-of-forces agreement, in accordance with resolution 1861 (2009). But discussions were still ongoing with the Government of Chad. He hoped that some of the matters relating to taxation would be resolved.
Addressing efforts within the United Nations ambit, he said MINURCAT laised closely with BONUCA and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the United Nations Country Team in the Central African Republic, Chad and Cameroon. The Department had arranged an “intermission” meeting between MINURCAT, UNAMID, BONUCA and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to improve coordination. MINURCAT and the United Nations Country Team in N’Djamena had begun preparing an “integrated strategy framework” outlining activities until the end of 2011. It was expected to be finalized in October.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX (France) said that the situation in Chad and the Central African Republic remained challenging, and it was important to complete the deployment of MINURCAT and ensure that DIS was functioning well. Following the transition from the European Union Force (EUFOR), it was essential that the Mission’s deployment be accelerated and completed. France would maintain its logistics battalion. The United Nations should respect its commitments, including those relating to building the airport infrastructure in Chad.
On DIS, he said that those units ensured security in some refugee camps and were providing escorts to humanitarian workers. However, he was concerned by some disciplinary problems, which deserved vigilance to ensure DIS’ best functioning. Cooperation and coordination with MINURCAT was needed, with the Mission providing necessary logistical support. Good synergy was essential, particularly with the Chadian authorities.
He also stressed the importance of protecting the population and humanitarian workers in an uncertain environment. Noting tensions between Chad and the Sudan, he called on both countries to refrain from any actions that could lead to an escalation. Violations of air space and support for armed groups must end. Attacks against humanitarian personnel remained very high, with some 150 attacks in five months. Members of DIS had also been attacked, with three deaths since April. In the Central African Republic, an increase in ethnic tensions had also led to insecurity. He was pleased that MINURCAT was implementing its mandate and encouraged it, in collaboration with the Chadian authorities, to take steps to end human rights violations, including recruitment of child soldiers.
The international community must continue to encourage various parties to participate in good faith in the political process and resolve their differences through peaceful means, he said, welcoming progress in the implementation of the 13 August agreement, in particular the formation of an electoral commission. The launch of the census was an essential step in preparing for the elections. It was also crucial to continue the peace process in the Central African Republic, in particular the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. He welcomed the Mission’s strategic workplan, which seemed suitable to the Mission’s objectives and the situation on the ground.
JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica) welcomed the preparation of the Mission’s strategic workplan, saying its inclusion of benchmarks and descriptions of how to achieve them were valuable. Particularly welcome was a new benchmark on the improvement of general peace and security in the subregion. Conducive and voluntary return of displaced persons in eastern Chad was a major objective of MINURCAT and could only be achieved if conflicts in part of the country, and the subregion as a whole, were resolved. Indeed, solutions were needed for internal conflicts in Chad, as well as between Chad and the Sudan.
He said his Government also believed that to achieve the benchmarks, the Government of Chad, armed opposition groups, regional players and the international community must all play their part. The Government of Chad, in particular, needed to step up its efforts to develop an inclusive political process. As the Secretary-General said in his report, for any reconciliation process to be viable, all opposition groups, both political and armed, must be included. He called on all parties in Chad to commit to dialogue and national reconciliation, and welcomed the treaty between three rebel groups and the Government in Tripoli, where the parties renounced their armed struggle. He urged the Government to study every possibility for reconciliation, including accepting the facilitative services of the Secretary-General’s good offices.
He added that his Government shared the Secretary-General’s appeal that States with influence over the conflicting parties should commit to finding a political settlement. For one, the Governments of Chad and the Sudan should refrain from provocations, whether political or military, and stop undermining international efforts to resolve the conflicts in their region. They should stop supporting rebel groups, build trust and embark on normalization of relations.
Costa Rica was concerned by the humanitarian situation and reports of sexual violence involving Chadian armed forces, he said. Reports of the recruitment of child soldiers were also disquieting, and he urged MINURCAT to tackle that issue, as part of the goal of improving the justice system and meeting the provisions of Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008). It condemned attacks on humanitarian personnel. It was heartened to hear instances of dialogue at the grass-roots level, and encouraged MINURCAT to continue those efforts and for interested parties to suggest new ways to bolster MINURCAT’s capacity in that respect. While Costa Rica was glad that work with DIS had been completed, it hoped that MINURCAT would step up training of more officers. It meanwhile appreciated efforts to improve coordination between the humanitarian community, MINURCAT and local security forces. On security in the Central African Republic, Costa Rica hoped that coordination between MINURCAT and BONUCA would continue.
ANTOINE SOMDAH (Burkina Faso) said that the security and humanitarian situation in the north-eastern part of the Central African Republic was worrying. His delegation condemned the attack of 4 May by armed groups and reiterated a call to all parties to renounce a military solution to the crisis and respect their commitments. The ongoing insecurity was a major source of concern and compromised humanitarian activities. He was encouraged that the Chadian Government, supported by MINURCAT, had deployed DIS. He encouraged partners to continue providing logistical support to the DIS to enable fulfilment of its mission.
He said he was encouraged by the political progress, which had included consensus on the draft law on the status of the opposition and political charter, as well as formation of the National Election Commission. The census was a decisive step towards the holding of elections. The parties must maintain their dialogue. He was worried about the deterioration in some regions of the Central African Republic, which had led to an increase in the number of refugees and compromised the provision of humanitarian assistance. It was important to continue the political dialogue towards national reconciliation, with a view to the presidential elections in 2010. With respect to the situation in the subregion, he was convinced that resolution of the crisis required close cooperation among neighbouring States. He encouraged Chad and the Sudan to cooperate fully against armed groups in accordance with existing agreements. He also urged both countries to avoid any acts that could fuel tensions.
The international community must do its utmost to accelerate the deployment of MINURCAT and provide the necessary logistical support. He also took note of the Mission’s strategic workplan, saying he shared the Secretary-General’s view with respect to the preliminary conditions for the Mission’s withdrawal. In view of prevailing insecurity, the international community, and the Security Council in particular, should remain mobilized to provide significant assistance with respect to the efforts of the two countries.
KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV ( Russian Federation) said the situation in the region was complex. Destabilization in east Chad through the actions of armed groups posed security challenges. In north-east Central African Republic, complications stemmed from the humanitarian crisis. In those conditions, external sources of assistance were essential, as was the need for the United Nations to play a lead role. Russia shared the Secretary-General’s view that the main responsibility for resolving Chad’s security issues lay with its own Government. He welcomed the progress by that Government to implement agreements with the political opposition.
He added that stabilization in Chad and the region as a whole were impossible without reconciliation with the Sudan. Concerned by flights by the Chadian Air Force into Sudanese territory and by air strikes in Darfur in July, he said both sides should work to normalize relations, which was in the interest of the entire subregion. The framework for those negotiations already existed. The parties needed to continue making progress on the Dakar agreement and step up efforts to resume the work of contact group.
He commended the efforts of MINURCAT, in which Russia was active, and welcomed its involvement in setting up DIS. Aside from providing logistical support, it would become increasingly important to improve coordination between MINURCAT, DIS and the Chadian security forces. Also, with the Mission’s military component set to be fully staffed by the end of 2009, the Russian Government hoped that troop-contributing countries would think about providing air components for the Mission. At present, that responsibility was being borne by the Russian aviation group, which it was glad to continue doing, in accordance with the mandate. Benchmarking was important, but it was equally important to develop benchmarks in consultation with all parties, particularly the Government of Chad.
YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) said that the volatile security situation in Chad and the Central African Republic was a cause of serious concern. The problems included violence and banditry, as well as light weapons proliferation. A political process to seek stability was essential. It was encouraging that the Government of Chad had recently signed an agreement with three rebel groups. Also encouraging was the progress in the electoral process, and he hoped the elections would be organized, as planned. He welcomed those positive steps and trusted that political dialogue would intensify.
He addressed the growing number of refugees and internally displaced persons, who were experiencing difficulties in receiving humanitarian support. Japan was providing, through United Nations agencies, some $10 million for humanitarian needs in Chad and about half million in the Central African Republic.
Tension was a concern for stability in the region, he said. The parties should resolve their difficulties through dialogue, and he called for an immediate halt to hostilities. He encouraged continued mediation by the countries in the region, where MINURCAT had an essential stabilizing role. Japan was meanwhile concerned about the delay in MINURCAT’s deployment and the danger presented by gaps if rotation was not met with new forces. More support was needed in that regard. It was also important to support the capacity‑building of Chadian institutions. He called for pledges in support of DIS and welcomed ongoing efforts to strengthen Chadian judicial institutions, which were essential for the defence of human rights and of women and children. MINURCAT needed every possible support to fulfil its strategic plan.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING (Austria) strongly condemned the renewed escalation of violence by Chadian armed groups from the Sudan, and expressed concerned over reports that recruitment of soldiers, by armed groups like the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and others, were taking place at refugee camps. All opposition groups, both the armed opposition and political opposition, must be reconciled. In that vein, progress was welcome in implementing the 13 August agreement to foster internal political dialogue between Chad and its opposition groups. The establishment of an independent electoral commission was opening the way for elections in June 2010, in which MINURCAT should be ready to play a role, if requested. He welcomed MINURCAT’s efforts to resolve local conflicts.
He said it was important to bring armed groups back to the democratic process. Acknowledging the agreement signed recently by three opposition groups and welcoming Libya’s efforts in that context, he expressed hope that the programme would succeed in bringing the main opposition group ‑‑ Union of Forces of the Resistance (UFR) ‑‑ to the negotiation table. Concerned by severely strained relations between the Sudan and Chad, exacerbated by cross-border incursions, Austria wished to hear the Special Representative’s opinion on possible joint-border monitoring by Chad and Sudanese forces. Relations between Chad and the Sudan had a direct effect on developments in the region, and all actors should use their influence to resolve the issues between them. He appreciated MINURCAT’s attempts to benchmark progress on improvement of overall peace and security.
Stressing the importance of monitoring human rights in eastern Chad, he raised related issues of concern, such as attacks against humanitarian personnel, reports of sexual violence and child abductions from camps for recruitment by rebel groups. Dealing with internally displaced persons and facilitation of voluntary return and resettlement was a core part of MINURCAT’s mandate, and he understood that there were obstacles in measuring progress. But hopefully, success in that context could somehow be included in the benchmarks. He noted that trained DIS officers were contributing to improved security in refugee camps and key towns, and acknowledged the work of Chadian authorities to tackle cases of poor discipline among the ranks. He looked forward to DIS’ upcoming assessment. Austria had sent 130 troops to MINURCAT, and the European Union’s special representative in Chad was Austrian. His Government had great appreciation for the job being done by the Mission and the Country Team.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said that, while he recognized the difficulties deploying MINURCAT in the four months since the transfer of authority from EUFOR, he was concerned at the delay. The 46 per cent deployment was insufficient for the implementation of the Mission’s mandate. He also shared concern over the security gaps, which left the Mission unacceptably vulnerable. The United States would continue to provide training programmes for the deployment of African contingents, and he called on troop contributors to provide troops and ensure that they were sufficiently trained.
Meanwhile, he said the deployment of DIS had resulted in improved security in and around refugee and internally displaced persons camps, but concerns remained with regard to DIS training and equipment. Recent attacks on members of DIS sadly demonstrated the need to enhance their capacity. Fortunately, appropriate action had been taken with respect to some misconduct cases. DIS would benefit from further training, and he looked forward to receiving additional information on DIS’ assessment.
His delegation was concerned over growing violence in the Central African Republic, he said, urging the Mission to maximize its capability to protect humanitarian workers in the area, including by maximizing the number of patrols. Insecurity caused by armed groups jeopardized peace and security in the entire region. He urged Chad and the Sudan to ease tensions and implement existing agreements. Both Governments must end all support to armed groups.
In conclusion, he reiterated his delegation’s strong support for MINURCAT; it functioned in a fragile situation, which no single party could resolve. He encouraged regional actors and countries to use their good offices to influence the Governments of Chad and the Sudan to abide by existing peace agreements and protect civilians within their borders.
LIU ZHENMIN (China) said he was concerned over the situation in Chad and the Central African Republic, but at the same time, welcomed the progress reached in the peace process in the Central African Republic, where one of the opposition groups had laid down its arms and begun talks with the Government. Voicing hope that the presidential elections in that country would go smoothly, he called on the international community to provide technical and material assistance. MINURCAT’s exercise with BONUCA had helped the Government promote socio-economic development.
Concerning Chad, he expressed the Chinese Government’s appreciation for the consensus reached with opposition political parties on a legislative framework for the upcoming elections, which had led to the creation of a national independent electoral commission. He urged the parties to maintain dialogue and to work towards political reconciliation. Pleased that three rebel groups had signed a peace agreement with each other and the Government on 26 July, he expressed appreciation for Libya’s efforts to facilitate that event. He meanwhile condemned the Union des Forces de la Resistance (UFR) for its attacks in eastern Chad in May, and urged it to settle the dispute through negotiation.
Urging restraint between Chad and the Sudan, he said he hoped that both parties could prevent further deterioration of the situation. The parties should address their concerns through dialogue, and the international community should exert as much effort as possible to promote peace and spark negotiations. China’s special representation for Africa had recently visited the two countries, and the Chinese Government would continue to work with international community to ease the tense situation in the region. Satisfied with the progress in MINURCAT’s deployment, China also appreciated its efforts to help the Chadian Government set up DIS, which would help improve security in refugee camps in the east. MINURCAT should continue its efforts with the host countries to complete its planned deployment.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam) said that his delegation was deeply concerned over tension in eastern Chad, especially after the armed operation in May. He was also troubled by the deterioration of the security situation in MINURCAT’s area of operations in the Central African Republic, as well as rising tensions between Chad and the Sudan. At the same time, he was pleased with progress in the implementation of the 13 August agreement with regard to the legislative framework for the elections. He called on all parties to build on that positive momentum in Chad, which would facilitate the search for a lasting solution. He urged Chad and the Sudan to exercise utmost restraint and seriously implement relevant accords.
Reiterating full support for MINURCAT, he called on the donors and troop contributors to extend necessary resources and provide military “enablers” to expedite full deployment. MINURCAT had made a considerable contribution, despite the challenges. In particular, he took positive note of the assistance extended to Chad in the deployment of DIS, which had helped improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. He was pleased with the close cooperation and consultations between MINURCAT and Chad and the Central African Republic, especially with regard to the conclusion of the status-of-mission agreement. Such cooperation should be further strengthened for the successful implementation of the Mission’s mandate. He shared the Secretary-General’s view on the benchmarks for the Mission’s exit strategy.
FAZLI ÇORMAN (Turkey) said attacks by the Chadian armed opposition and tensions between N’Djamena and Khartoum had combined to make MINURCAT’s operating environment much more complicated. He hoped MINURCAT could come close to its authorized strength before the end of year and avoid security gaps due to delays in deployment. The full deployment of DIS was a major achievement, which MINURCAT would have to continue to support. Bearing in mind that MINURCAT could not stay forever, the Chadian Government would need to do more to support DIS. Whether through DIS or their armed forces, Chadian authorities would eventually have to assume full responsibility for security.
He added, however, that the instability in the east could not be resolved through a military solution. Indeed, it was important for the Chadian Government to come to terms with the armed opposition and genuinely work to create a political setting through which the conflict could be addressed. An agreement brokered in Tripoli, Libya, between the Chadian Government and the National Movement was very welcome. Hopefully, the Chadian Government could build on that momentum to bring other and larger elements into the fold.
On the regional level, he said deteriorating relations between Chad and the Sudan had unfortunate consequences, not least for civilians. Cross-border air and ground raids did not help an already grave situation. Both countries must understand that their interests lay in cooperation and that a change of tone and approach was sorely needed. A high-level mediation effort was the way forward for a lasting political settlement.
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI (Libya) said the tense situation in the MINURCAT area of operations had direct repercussions on the humanitarian situation in Chad and the Central African Republic. There were still many refugees and internally displaced persons in grave need of humanitarian assistance. Also disturbing were the activities of armed groups and bandits during the period under consideration, which had a negative effect on the provision of humanitarian assistance. He welcomed positive developments between the Government of Chad and the political opposition, in particular, the approval of the legislative framework for elections and the establishment of the national electoral commission. He was also glad to see that the census was proceeding.
Noting that Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qadhafihad reiterated his concern regarding the establishment of peace in Chad and Darfur, Mr. Dabbashi said an end could be put to the conflict in the region, which would in turn enhance global peace. Libya wanted to see rebel groups in Chad sit down with the Government to give effect to existing agreements. It would also like to see all armed groups join in reconciliation. He welcomed the agreement between the Government of Chad and three armed groups, and supported the political process in the Central African Republic. Libyan mediation efforts had led to the signing of the agreement between the Government of the Central African Republic and armed groups, bringing them back to the political process. Reaffirming the importance of strengthening peace in that country, he also welcomed the efforts of regional and international actors. The international community should support the efforts to bolster peace in the region. Libya was aware of the effects of the relationship between Chad and the Sudan on the situation in the region and welcomed the efforts of the Government of Qatar and the contribution of Mr. Qadhafito ensure that agreements signed were put into effect, with the goal of achieving normalization.
He was concerned over MINURCAT’s slow deployment and hoped that it would be concluded quickly, so that the Mission could carry out its mandate. He hoped that MINURCAT would be present in the eastern portion of the Central African Republic. He meanwhile welcomed the positive role of DIS in tightening the security of refugee camps in eastern Chad, and hoped DIS would be strengthened. While Libya welcomed the Mission’s strategic plan, it did not support the time frame included in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report. Stressing the need to be realistic, he said that setting the time frame could send a mistaken message to the parties, creating either too optimistic an impression or a too-pessimistic one. It would be wiser to confine the plan to objective benchmarks, which should be associated with genuine realistic indicators of progress. That, in turn, depended on the political resolve of the parties concerned.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) said MINURCAT’s progress was significant, especially in helping with the deployment of DIS in April, despite the limitations that many others had pointed out today. Similarly, MINURCAT had contributed to forging the agreements between the Government of Chad and various opposition groups on electoral issues. It had participated actively in verification exercises over large areas to determine that they were free of mines and unexploded ordnance. However, he was concerned about the delay reaching its authorized force, which meant that the Mission was operating at less than half its strength. He asked if the Secretariat could provide the Council with more details on that issue.
He said the political situation in the region was delicate, and was made more complicated by the existing state of relations between Chad, Central African Republic and the Sudan. But their relations should not serve as a pretext for inaction. Region-wide peace required political dialogue and normalized relations, between those countries. Measures must be taken to build a climate of trust and ensure that States refrained from providing support to armed rebels from within their territories, against neighbouring countries. He suggested the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to oversee progress in implementing the May Doha agreement and the March Dakar agreement.
The tense security environment within which MINURCAT worked, due in large part to the activities of armed groups, impeded relations between Chad and the Central African Republic, which accused one another of supporting rebels. The human rights situation was worrisome, and he pointed to the need to listen more closely to complaints of aggression directed at humanitarian workers, and of violations against women and children. The violation of rights of children in the two countries were of concern, and through its work in the working group on children and armed conflict, Mexico would seek to advance appeals to armed groups and the two Governments to develop plans of actions to prevent the use of children in armed conflict, with Council resolution 1612 (2005) as its basis. He paid tribute to MINURCAT’s efforts that had led to the handover of 84 children pressed into service by Chadian forces. The Mission’s strategic workplan included an item on protection of civilians and humanitarian agents, and a strengthened legal framework to enhance access to justice, which he also appreciated.
DAVID QUARREY (United Kingdom) said that MINURCAT was starting to have an effect on the ground, but the security situation remained a source of concern. Peace in Chad was linked to peace in Darfur. The recent Chadian aerial bombing of Darfur was worrying. Stressing the importance of easing tensions between Chad and the Sudan, he reiterated a call for a meeting of the Dakkar contact group.
While welcoming the development of the strategic workplan and benchmarks for the Mission, he said that one area not tackled in the report related to the recruitment from internally displaced persons and refugee camps. He wanted to know about the scale of the problem. He also welcomed full deployment of DIS and its increased effectiveness. Going forward, it was important to ensure that DIS did not provide those escorts at the detriment of its work in the camps. MINURCAT should take over the responsibility for the escorts as soon as possible.
VICE SKRAČIĆ (Croatia) welcomed progress in Chad, especially on the Government’s agreement with opposition members on modalities for the election and for completing the general population census. If successful, national elections offered a fresh chance at national reconciliation and achievement of political stability. He urged the Chadian Government to build on those gains and to aim for an inclusive political process, especially in the east. Inclusive political dialogue was key to overcoming internal weaknesses, for instance, on issues of human rights, involving the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons.
He expressed regret that relations between Chad and the Sudan had deteriorated. While welcoming the success of the Doha agreement, it had broken down after an attack by an armed opposition group that was based inside western Darfur, whose stated aim had been to overthrow the Chadian Government. Those attacks had then precipitated a response by the Chadian Army, including air strikes. He called upon both Governments to end their support for rebel groups and to restore order and stability.
He voiced concern over the humanitarian situation, with around 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons seeking aid. The numerous camps set up for those persons placed pressure on the local population and set the stage for banditry. The presence of DIS in 12 key camps was welcome, as were MINURCAT’s efforts to ensure that DIS received support and training. However, DIS was a community policing force and could not be pitted against large-scale incursions. Noting MINURCAT was acting at 50 per cent capacity, he said he hoped that troop-contributing countries would make possible its full deployment by year’s end. The Mission lacked certain “key enablers”, such as helicopters, and he hoped that troop contributors would consider that deficit when making their pledges.
Speaking in his national capacity, Security Council President for July RUHAKANA RUGUNDA (Uganda) said he was encouraged by efforts by the Government of Chad and the political opposition to implement the 13 August agreement and the achievement of the consensus on the elections framework. However, much more should be done to consolidate the progress. The 4 May attack had illustrated the fragility of the situation in that country.
He commended the Government of the Central African Republic for the measures to foster dialogue, including the establishment of a broad-based Government in January 2009. Nevertheless, he was concerned about the negative impact of the armed rebellion in the north-east of the country, and called on the Government and armed groups to embrace a political process through peaceful means.
He also commended mediation efforts by Libya and stressed the importance of good relations between the Sudan and Chad. Stability in the region would require resolution of conflicts in the respective countries. He commended MINURCAT for its critical contribution and said that the Mission’s deployment to full capacity should be expedited. Uganda welcomed the development of the strategic workplan, with benchmarks. He called on the Mission to focus on strengthening national capacities as a core part of its exit strategy.
FERNAND POUKRÉ-KONO (Central African Republic) thanked Mr. Angelo and MINURCAT and assured them of his country’s full support. The situation in the north-east was disquieting, since hostilities between Chadian forces and rebel bodies, among them tribal groups, had caused massive displacement. Their ongoing conflicts had hampered humanitarian and economic activities, including trade and livestock farming. Tribal conflicts had prompted the Government to intervene, in recognition of its responsibility to protect the population from harm and restore rule of law. Talks had taken place with rebel groups that had once refused to engage in reconciliation, and those talks would continue as long as they advanced the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, helped meet humanitarian needs and promoted economic and social development.
He explained that the north-eastern region formed a triangle of land with parts in the Sudan and Chad. That area was of strategic importance because of the trade and livestock farming that took place there. But it had become too dangerous for commercial activities because armed groups ran rampant and because of the situation in Darfur. Those groups had multiplied as a result of the crisis. His Government was committed to working with the United Nations. Talks with rebels had been fruitful and had led to compromise. He hoped MINURCAT would be mandated to continue activities along those lines. His Government’s aim was to conduct humanitarian activities without armed escort when it brought assistance to areas bordering Chad.
MINURCAT had worked with the Government to acquire transportation to remote areas, but it had very little means to help. His Government would advocate more support for MINURCAT to enable it to reach full capacity. He briefly acknowledged the role played by the Government of France in that regard. The Peacebuilding Commission, among others, needed to complement the work of MINURCAT to help “extricate” the country from crisis. Measures should be taken in the north-east to bring stability, such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. He appealed to others to pay serious attention to the situation in that area of the country, keeping in mind the larger subregional context. Peace was a challenge to all partners, especially with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda stepping up its incursions in 2009. The LRA left damaged crops in its wake; it killed people, exploited women, and used children as soldiers.
AHMAD ALLAM-MI (Chad) expressed satisfaction over the establishment of MINURCAT, noting its positive role in protecting refugees, internally displaced persons and humanitarian workers. The international community, in particular the Security Council, should help it to meet its urgent staffing and logistics needs. He thanked the institutions and countries that had contributed financial and human resources to the Mission and expressed gratitude to the contributors to the trust fund for financing DIS. Those local policing units’ role on the ground was of great importance, but their financing was a source of concern, and he urged additional efforts in that regard by the end of the year.
As noted by most speakers, Chad was demonstrating its ongoing determination to resolve its domestic problems, he continued. Recent developments had included the consensus on the legislative framework for the elections and the setting up of the National Electoral Commission, with a view to holding elections in 2010. The Electoral Commission consisted of 15 members of the majority and 15 members of the opposition. He also remarked on the return to legality of several hundred elements of armed groups that had come from the Sudan, in particular the Mouvement National of Ahmad Assabalah Soubianne, which had signed on 25 July the reconciliation agreement with the Government, with the facilitation of Mr. Qadhafi.
Faced with the Sudanese aggression, his Government remained vigilant, he said. Considering previous disappointment, owing to Khartoum’s violations of many agreements, the international community should understand his country’s suspicions. Contrary to the Sudan’s allegations, Chad was not violating its air space or attacking armed groups in Darfur. It did acknowledge carrying out air strikes against the forces that had arrived from the Sudan and were assembled along the Chadian side of the border; the international community could not reproach his country for exercising its legitimate right to self-defence. However, his country remained fully prepared to normalize its relations with the Sudan in the interests of the two brotherly peoples, and he took note of the concerns expressed by the speakers in that regard. Chad reiterated its full cooperation with the United Nations in carrying out its noble mission of peace in his country.
In response, Mr. ANGELO showed members several photographs taken in Chad. One was of the capital city of Vakagga, which had been largely destroyed in the June attacks. Until the end of May, it had been an important commercial centre, but it had been reduced to a ghost town. The displaced population was not confident enough to return. In another photograph, contingents of the Chadian national police were shown in their blue uniforms, including women, standing outside a DIS station in eastern Chad. One photograph showed the outside of a prison in the east. He told the Council he did not want to show a photograph of the prison’s interior, because he feared it would be too shocking. The final photograph showed a large group of men gathered under a tree to discuss issues of concern, which Mr. Angelo said was an example of how different ethnic groups engaged in conflict resolution.
Addressing comments and questions directed at him by Council members, he explained that the Mission had staff “all over the place”, sometimes working in extremely difficult conditions. Upon receiving complaints from foreign troops over living conditions, he had often taken pains to show that living conditions for Mission staff were no better. He pledged to continue efforts to improve the working and living conditions of DIS officers, and not just staff.
On conflicts at the community level, he said that those provided “the first source of combatants for rebellions”, explaining that those dissatisfied with lingering conflicts often left their communities to join rebel groups. Community dialogue and conflict resolution was thus an important condition for the return of displaced persons, and the Mission was trying to foster a conducive environment.
Turning to the Dakar process and the suggestion to monitor progress, he said conditions were present for a border monitoring mechanism to work. But to begin that process, a meeting of all members of the Dakar group would be required. He further suggested that such a meeting take place in Khartoum, since the last meeting had taken place in N’Djamena. But both Chad and the Sudan must engage in confidence building before the meeting took place, if the plan was to bear fruit. Countries with influence should do their part to create trust.
On discipline in the DIS, he said the Mission and the Government of Chad had expelled all those engaged in misbehaviour. But compared to the average level of poor discipline in similar Missions ‑‑ the usual 5 per cent of the total number of staff ‑‑ the cases numbered only 3 per cent here. The DIS was an innovative approach to security, combining international and national security mechanisms. Ensuring DIS’ success was imperative to success in Chad.
Addressing the issue of delays in deployment, he urged all troop-contributing countries that had pledged their support to the Mission to make those contributions as soon as possible. He also asked them to envisage an extension of their presence. Mr. Angelo gave the Council his word that, if fully deployed, the Mission would be sure to make a difference in eastern Chad. But it would need certain military enablers, which he would be happy to discuss with the Council.
Turning to north-eastern Central African Republic, he admitted that the situation there had deteriorated since May. He saw a proliferation of ethnically based militias, and more weapons. Some members of the militia had gone across the border to look for support in Darfur, among their “kith and kin”. The Mission was trying to ensure that the resources at its disposal were being used to their maximum effect. He was not seeking additional resources, but trying to make full use of the resources already at hand. The Mission was trying to improve security conditions so that the political process, the mediation that had originated in Bangui, could carry over to that region. It was also providing logistical support to the Government at Bangui, considering its limited means.
Finally, on the question by the representative of the United Kingdom on benchmarks, he said he would return to the Council later, with ideas on how to obtain concrete figures of recruitment activity happening in camps.
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