- An imminent UN Security Council resolution to withdraw peacekeeping troops from eastern Chad "will put the safety of thousands of refugees and other vulnerable groups at risk," human rights groups warned today. Civilians are fearing a Chadian army takeover.
The resolution, sparked by a demand from the Chadian government earlier this year that the UN mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) leaves the region, is likely to be adopted by the UN Security Council by Wednesday.
"The Security Council's decision to withdraw peacekeepers is premature and dangerous. It will increase insecurity in the area and undermine attempts to provide emergency humanitarian assistance," said Erwin van der Borght of the human rights group Amnesty International.
"MINURCAT has demonstrated it is able to play a significant role in bolstering security and human rights protection in eastern Chad. This is not the time for the Chadian government to pull the plug on MINURCAT and the Security Council should stand up for the vulnerable women, men and young people in the region," the group adds.
But the pull-out from Chad is already in the making, with most European countries already left or leaving. Only recently, the Norwegian government decided to dismantle its field hospital despite UN pleas for a longer commitment. With the hospital dismantled, the last remaining European troops prepare to leave and a key medical service for refugees disappears.
Security and the humanitarian situation for the many refugees and internally displaced in Chad is already deteriorating, according to information obtained by afrol News. Former MINURCAT officers further have confirmed that civilians fear the take-over by Chadian forces, not seeing them as a protective force but rather as a threat to their security.
But due to pressure from the N'djamena government, high costs of the operation, few available UN troops as the Afghan war goes on and Western disinterest in the Chadian crisis, the UN Security Council this week will adopt a resolution leading to the end of MINURCAT. The proposed resolution lays out a timetable for an immediate reduction of UN troops in the region, leading to the complete withdrawal of troops by the end of the year.
The Chadian government has insisted it will ensure the protection of vulnerable people in the region without UN assistance. However, it has provided no plan about how it intends to immediately replace the UN mission.
Meanwhile, little has been done by Chadian authorities or UN officials to involve refugees, displaced Chadians or the local population in discussions about the crucial issue. There are approximately 250,000 Darfuri refugees, 165,000 displaced Chadians and hundreds of thousands of other Chadians living in the region where MINURCAT troops have been deployed.
According to an Amnesty statement, "it is wholly unacceptable that this resolution is taking place before the Chadian government has shown it has a concrete plan in place to provide security, and it is deeply disturbing that those whose rights are on the line have essentially been cut out of the debate."
"None of the important benchmarks previously recommended by the UN Secretary-General and endorsed by the Security Council have been met. The fact that the UN is being pushed out of the country long before the mission has succeeded sets a very worrying precedent for human rights protection and undermines the UN's authority and credibility," added Mr van der Borght.
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