UN alters plans for EU military operation in Chad
By Lisbeth Kirk
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday (16 August) unveiled a revised plan for UN presence in the troubled east of Chad and northeast of the Central African Republic.
According to the new plan, the European Union is to field a military force and the UN to focus on training police and civilian areas such as human rights and the rule of law.
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Both countries have received thousands of refugees from Sudan's Darfur region leading to increased tensions and fears of a possible breakdown in law and order.
Chad has repeatedly asked for international assistance to manage the refugees but raised concerns about a UN military presence in the area.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is now proposing an EU military force instead, which he said has already been accepted in principle by Chat's president Idriss Deby.
A meeting between Mr Deby and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner in June paved the way for agreement, according to the UN chief.
"This force [the EU], which would be responsible for protecting civilians and ensuring humanitarian assistance can be provided, would operate for 12 months from deployment, with follow-on arrangements to be determined later", a UN press release said.
"The UN, the EU and the Chadian authorities would have to coordinate their work very closely, starting from the mission planning stages, if this revised model for a UN presence is to be successful," the Secretary-General stressed.
Dafur - largest peacekeeping mission in the world
Earlier this month the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution to create a 26,000-strong hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force in an attempt to halt more than four years of massacres in the Darfur region of Sudan. This will be the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.
By the end of the year this new force is to take over from the existing Africa Union, (AU) mission in Sudan, which has been deployed across Darfur since 2004.
The AU mission 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 China, an ally of Sudan, has signalled that it may be willing to provide peacekeeping troops. China buys two thirds of Sudan's oil and could face calls for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics if it is seen as not applying enough pressure on the Sudanese Government over Darfur.
UN officials have repeatedly described Sudan's western region of Darfur as the scene of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
The fighting has engulfed the Darfur region on Sudan's western flank since 2003, when local rebels took up arms. The government in Khartoum responded with the support of the militia known as the Janjaweed.
More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others have been displaced.