6th Dec 2022

EU troops for Chad considered

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French president Nicolas Sarkozy are considering whether to send EU troops to Chad to protect refugees from Darfur.

French newspaper La Croix reported that the two had discussed the idea during a meeting on Thursday (12 July).

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"We talked about the possibility of rapidly deploying — in cooperation with the president of Chad — an interim EU force that would protect refugee camps in Chad, while awaiting the deployment of a UN police force," Mr Solana was reported as saying.

The conflict between the pro-government janjaweed militia and ethnic African rebels has been ongoing for over four years in Sudan's western region of Darfur, killing over 200,000 and driving an estimated two and half million from their homes.

The EU discusses the matter at its monthly foreign minister meetings but so far has done little except to raise the prospect of sanctions.

This has prompted criticism in some quarters particularly from NGOs. Former EU foreign relations commissioner Chris Patten, who currently chairs the International Crisis Group, recently said that "It's hard to imagine the EU reaction has been so weak."

"The regime in Sudan may be a murderous one, but it is mindful of its own survival and has been proved to react to international pressure," he said, making a call for sanctions on the Sudanese government.

Hitting the Sudanese regime where it hurts economically is also the position of the European Parliament, which favours targeted economic sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes.

It backed a resolution yesterday (12 July) calling on the EU to monitor more strictly the arms embargo against Khartoum and to enforce a no-fly zone over the region.

In addition, MEPs also want an investigation into the where-about of millions of euros of EU funds intended for African Union soldiers.

A fact-finding team of MEPs went to Sudan last week where it discovered that EU money has not been reaching the ill-equipped military force for months.

"We're in a situation which is very embarrassing. For months they have not received their pay. Some have not received any pay at all," said Spanish socialist deputy Josep Borrell, according to AP news agency.

The Commission and EU states have given over 400 million euro to the African Union mission in Sudan since it was deployed to Sudan in 2004.

The 7000-strong African Union force has failed to stem the violence in Darfur, while the Sudanese government has for several months resisted attempts to have UN troops replace them.

But a compromise was reached last month whereby UN forces are to be deployed jointly with the African Union forces.

The current UN draft resolution draft also suggests the Security Council is ready to consider deploying a UN mission to eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic, both facing a conflict spillover effect from neighbouring Sudan.

Chad has repeatedly asked for international assistance with the Darfur refugees who have come to the country in large numbers.

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