Saturday

22nd Feb 2020

Foreign ministers set to call for EU troops in Chad

The European Union is set to take the first step towards sending soldiers to Chad to help the UN protect tens of thousands of refugees from Sudan's Darfur region.

EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday (23 July) are expected to endorse a plan for a possible 12-month peace-keeping mission with 1,500 to 3,000 troops to protect refugee camps bordering Sudan's western Darfur region, EU diplomats say according to press reports.

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Political approval for the move could come as early as September, leading to a possible European Security and Defence Policy mission to support the UN presence in eastern Chad and eventually handing over to a UN-AU – African Union - peacekeeping force.

The idea has been pushed by Paris and has gained support from other EU capitals. "We have the possibility to be very useful in Darfur, I hope, and in any case, to cooperate on this operation in Chad for its civilian populations," French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said on Wednesday (18 July), according to AP.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and French president Nicolas Sarkozy last week discussed the possibility of deploying an interim EU force as soon as possible near the refugee camps in Chad, while awaiting the deployment of a UN police force.

The EU move would come a few days after UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno on Tuesday (17 July) urged the 27-nation bloc to send troops and helicopters swiftly to improve security for refugees and aid workers as part of efforts to contain violence spilling over the border from Sudan.

In Darfur, at least 200,000 people are estimated to have died and more than 2 million have fled their homes since fighting flared in 2003 when African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Sudan government, in a conflict started over water resources.

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