Added |2009, 03
Chad: Blue Helmets Take Over From European Force in Chad, Central African Republic.
Today's transfer, which took place at midnight local time, was marked by a ceremony, attended by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, held in the Chadian city of Abéché, where MINURCAT's headquarters are located.
In January, the Security Council approved the deployment of over 5,500 blue helmets -- 300 police officers, 25 military liaison officers and 5,200 military personnel -- with the UN mission (MINURCAT) to replace the European troops (EUFOR), which has been in place since March 2008.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today commended EUFOR for the key role it has played in bolstering security for internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and other vulnerable groups in eastern Chad and north-eastern CAR.
"As MINURCAT assumes its new responsibilities, the Secretary-General is confident that the force will build upon and strengthen EUFOR's military achievements while continuing to execute the full range of its mandated tasks, including to contribute to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law and to support the development of the Chadian community police (Détachement Intégré de Sécurité) deployed in eastern Chad," the statement added.
Eastern Chad faces an acute humanitarian challenge with over 290,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur war, more than 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a further 700,000 individuals among host communities in need of food, water and health care. Northern CAR has also been affected by a spill-over from the Darfur conflict as well as by other armed groups.
In its January resolution, the Security Council stressed that the multidimensional presence in Chad and military presence in the CAR is intended to help create the security conditions conducive to a voluntary, secure and sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons, by boosting security protection, facilitating the provision of humanitarian aid, and promoting reconstruction and economic and social development.
The resolution empowers MINURCAT to "take all necessary measures, within its capabilities" to contribute to protecting civilians in danger, particularly refugees and IDPs, facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of humanitarian personnel, and protect UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment.
Mr. Ban also said today that he is "grateful" for several EUFOR contributors' and new troop contributing countries' commitments to the UN force, and encouraged Member States to continue filling remaining gaps to ensure that MINURCAT is equipped to execute its mandate.
Currently, the Mission is composed of some 300 uniformed personnel, mostly police, plus some 325 international civilians.
"In order to succeed, MINURCAT will need the active support of the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic," the Secretary-General said, adding that he is grateful to both Governments for "their cooperation during the transition period and looks forward to working with them in the implementation of MINURCAT's mandate."
In September 2007, the Council approved the establishment in Chad and CAR, in concert with the European Union (EU), of a UN-mandated, multidimensional presence, including European Union (EU) military forces, in Chad and CAR to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan.