Mission Head in Chad and Central African Republic Briefs Security Council on Early Steps of Withdrawal, Describes Areas Needing Urgent Attention in Months Ahead

10 August 2010
SC/10008

Mission Head in Chad and Central African Republic Briefs Security Council on Early Steps of Withdrawal, Describes Areas Needing Urgent Attention in Months Ahead

10 August 2010
Security Council
SC/10008
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6371st Meeting (AM)

Mission Head in Chad and Central African Republic Briefs Security Council on Early

Steps of Withdrawal, Describes Areas Needing Urgent Attention in Months Ahead

Says Sustainability of Chad’s Security Detachment Required Focused Attention;

Assistance Also Needed to Build Central African Republic’s Forces in North-East

The Government of Chad had made significant strides towards assuming its responsibilities in civilian protection, but the sustainability of its specialized forces, as well as security in the north-east Central African Republic needed urgent attention as peacekeepers withdrew, a top United Nations official told the Security Council today.

“The initial drawdown of the military component was carried out in an orderly and secure manner,” Youssef Mahmoud, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) said, expressing appreciation to the Government of Chad and outlining the challenges ahead, as he introduced the first report of the Secretary-General since plans for the withdrawal had been adopted.

He said that, following resolution 1923 (2010) of 25 May, which required the full withdrawal of MINURCAT by 31 December 2010, the Mission had worked to adjust its tasks and posture in eastern Chad.  On 27 May, the military component had ceased all area security patrols and escorts.  By 15 July, the military component had been reduced to 2,174, with 1,878 in Chad and 296 in the Central African Republic and was based in four main locations: three in eastern Chad and one in north-eastern Central African Republic.

There had been no reports of deliberate targeting of civilians recently in the area, but banditry continued, he said.  As of 27 May, the Government of Chad had taken over full responsibility for the security and protection of civilians and humanitarian workers in the eastern part of the country, having “spared no effort to rise up to the challenge”, despite the complexities of the situation and logistical and other limitations.

In that context, he said, the Détachement intégré de sécurité, the national force that MINURCAT was helping build, had increased its escorts and patrols in and around refugee camps and, on 1 July, the Government had launched a new system for the coordination of patrols and escorts for humanitarian workers in 13 key locations.  The joint Chad-Sudan border force had also continued to patrol, resulting in an increase of cross-border trade and civilian population movement.

The humanitarian situation remained of concern, he said.  While there had been some returns of internally displaced persons, the recent deterioration of the security situation in Darfur had prompted new, albeit limited, arrivals of Sudanese refugees.  Some 70 international organizations continued to provide aid to the 255,000 Sudanese refugees, 168,000 internally displaced persons and 64,000 Central African Republic refugees in Chad, along with 150,000 local residents.

The Joint High-Level Working Group required by resolution 1923 (2010) had been launched on 1 June, and had been meeting monthly, he added.  MINURCAT continued to implement its mandate in the rule of law, including assistance to the Détachement intégré de sécurité and the justice and prison sectors in eastern Chad, as well as human rights monitoring, with particular attention to sexual and gender-based violence.  It had also produced plans to consolidate gains and to transfer responsibilities in those areas to the Chadian Government and the United Nations country team.  The Government and the United Nations had also established a joint technical working group focused on the sustainability of the Détachement intégré de sécurité, which would require sustained attention, especially given the short time remaining before MINURCAT’s withdrawal.

Turning to the Central African Republic, he said that the continuing security threats in the north-east were mainly the result of the weak presence of the country’s armed forces, which lacked logistical and other means.  To redress that situation, he noted the Secretary-General’s proposal for capacity-building as outlined in his report, which was supported by the Government.  He noted that the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific configuration on the Central African Republic could play a catalytic role in that effort.

Following Mr. Mahmoud’s briefing, General Antoine Gambi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Francophone World of the Central African Republic, said the Secretary-General’s report required a few clarifications to ensure a better understanding of the situation in his country and the legitimate expectations of the people and Government regarding the status of MINURCAT.  The political situation was currently marked by preparations for legislative and presidential elections, which had been scheduled for 23 January 2011.  Those elections had previously been set for the end of the first half of 2010, but, despite the best efforts of the Government, they had been twice postponed, largely due to delays in issuance of voters’ lists, slow rollout of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, security concerns and financial issues.

Nevertheless, civil society groups and Government institutions had worked together to ensure the poll was rescheduled and institutional stability had reigned.  The Government and people were committed to peace, stability and security, despite the situation caused by ongoing unrest in Sudan’s Darfur region, which continued to spark flows of refugees and displaced persons.  He was most concerned about the ongoing activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which was carrying out a “rebellion which killed, maimed and raped” countless innocent people in the eastern part of his country.  The Central African Republic shared no border with Uganda, but a Ugandan rebellion “is currently raging in the Central African Republic”, which was having disastrous effects on the people — and economy — of the country. 

Now that the mandate of MINURCAT was coming to an end, there was a need to protect the “still precarious” future of the north-east, given the ongoing pockets of rebellion, trans-border banditry and inter-ethnic conflict, and the limited presence of security forces.  The Central African Republic Government conveyed its heartfelt gratitude to all those that had contributed to MINURCAT, he continued, adding that the Mission’s work had been conducted in a spirit of transparency, due to the vigilance of the Secretary-General.  However, the announcement of its withdrawal, which would have deleterious effects, had led to a strong response by his people, especially since peace in its area of operations was not guaranteed.

With that in mind, President François Bozizé had sent a letter to the Secretary-General, requesting that the United Nations send observers, trainers and advisers from MINURCAT to assist in training Central African Republic’s armed forces.  He welcomed that the report noted that request, as well as called for strengthening the security forces in the north of the country “which was its soft underbelly”.  “What we wish is to have a strong, capable and sustainable republican army capable of facing any and every security situation,” he said, calling on the Council to provide assistance in the area of army and police training, as well as in the acquisition of, among other necessities, bullet-proof vests, barracks and vehicles.

He said that the challenges of the coming months would be compounded by the referendums in Sudan and ongoing activity of LRA.  Those events should draw the keen attention of the Council and the wider international community.  “The Central African Republic should not and cannot fail,” he said, stressing that his Government would be greatly relieved by the Council’s “wise consideration” of the situation in the country and its request for assistance with capacity-building.

For its part, the Central African Republic was working to increase patrols in the north-east.  It was also working with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to step up surveillance in that area.  Yearning for the stability of his country’s entire territory, he stressed that the Secretary-General’s proposal for capacity-building be rapidly implemented “in the next few days”.  It was an urgent matter, especially as MINURCAT’s mandate was about to end, to ensure that remaining security forces were adequately equipped, trained and prepared to face any eventuality.  “Peace is priceless in this type of operation, where the lives of thousands of people are at risk,” he said.

Chad’s representative, Allam-mi Ahmad, said his country shared the Central African Republic’s concerns and stood by its side in asking for the international community’s continued support.  He stated that the Secretary-General’s report described the situation very accurately.  His Government had spared no effort in following the road map established in resolution 1923 (2010), particularly as concerned the protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, he affirmed.  In that context, he said, the Détachement intégré de sécurité must be maintained and strengthened.

In those efforts, he said some $12 million per month was drawn from Chad’s own resources.  He asked that the international community assist it in shouldering that burden.  The special trust fund must remain after MINURCAT left, in order to continue building the Détachement intégré de sécurité, which was a unique community police unit.  He expressed gratitude for the generous contributions that had already been made to that fund.

The plan for the sustainability of the Détachement intégré de sécurité, though delayed, would be handed over to the Council shortly, he said, adding that due note had been taken of all comments made in previous Security Council meetings.  He reiterated his country’s complete cooperation with the United Nations in accomplishing its noble mission of peace in his country and the region.

The meeting was opened at 10:07 a.m. and closed at 10:48 a.m., after which the Council immediately went into consultations on MINURCAT, as previously agreed.

Background

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/2010/409), submitted in compliance with resolution 1923 (2010) of 25 May, by which the Council approved a plan for the withdrawal of the Mission by 31 December 2010 and asked for assessments of the transition phase in eastern Chad, as well as an evaluation of the consequences of the withdrawal of MINURCAT from the Central African Republic, along with regional and international options for that country.

In the report, the Secretary-General says he is encouraged by the efforts of the Government of Chad, thus far, to assume its responsibilities for the protection of civilians, notwithstanding the complexities of the task and the “vastness and harshness” of the east of the country.

He welcomes outreach to local authorities in the area undertaken jointly by his Special Representative and the Head of Chad’s National Coordination for the Support of the International Force in the East.  In addition, he says that the recently established Joint High-Level Working Group, the humanitarian dialogue forums and other mechanisms should enable the Government of Chad and its international partners to exercise their respective responsibilities for the protection of civilians, including refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as humanitarian workers.

In that regard, he encouraged the Government of Chad and the United Nations family to redouble their efforts to create incentives for the voluntary, secure and sustainable settlement or return of internally displaced persons.  He welcomes efforts that have been made to address human rights abuses in eastern Chad, to reduce gender-based violence and to rehabilitate a weak judiciary.

He says that the Chadian security force known as the Détachement intégré de sécurité had made advances in protecting refugee camps and securing their surroundings, and must not be allowed to fail.  He pledges that MINURCAT will spare no effort in supporting it to gradually take over full responsibility, recognizing, however, that the Détachement intégré de sécurité required sustained support from the Government and international partners.

The security and humanitarian challenges in eastern Chad and in the north-eastern Central African Republic are complex, he notes, and will no doubt continue to require sustained attention after the end of the Mission.  Nevertheless, the improved relations between Chad and the Sudan, the increasing effectiveness of their joint border patrols and the efforts undertaken by the Government of Chad to strengthen national protection capabilities bode well for the future.

He notes with regret, however, that after a period of improvement in security situation in eastern Chad earlier this year, an upsurge of criminal activity has prompted some humanitarian workers to downsize or suspend their operations there.  He urges the local and central authorities to continue to send clear signals that preying on the lives and property of humanitarian workers and vulnerable populations will not be tolerated.

MINURCAT, he reports, is working diligently to execute the plan for a gradual and orderly drawdown, despite many constraints. A report on progress made in those efforts will be issued in October, he notes, in the meanwhile encouraging the two Governments involved to continue to lend full support.

In regard to the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General supports the view of President François Bozizé that peacekeeping is not the best tool to help address challenges in security and rule of law in the north-east. He recommends, rather, a focus on strengthening medium- to long-term efforts to build State capacities, coupled with immediate measures to strengthen the national armed forces, known as FACA, in the area.  International assistance would be undertaken in the context of longer-term security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts.

That strategy could be complemented, he proposes, by joint border patrolling by the Central African Republic and Chad, and implementation of the bilateral agreements for joint border patrols between the Central African Republic and Sudan.  Assistance could be provided on a bilateral or multilateral basis, and could be channelled through the African Union or the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), among other routings.  He encourages the Government and international and regional actors to further consider and develop those proposals.  He affirms that he stands ready to assist their efforts through his good offices.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.