22nd Sep 2023

EU troops in Chad not solving security problem, NGO says

The 3,700 EU troops deployed in Chad, Europe's largest military mission abroad, cannot effectively protect the refugees because they are not backed by an effective UN policing mission, a report released by international development NGO Oxfam has said.

One year after the start of a joint EU-UN mission in Chad, Oxfam reports that EUFOR, the European wing of the effort has made refugees feel safer, but they remain inadequately protected as no policing mission, promised by the UN, has been deployed.

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The mission is marked by "serious delays in deployment," "bureaucratic hurdles" and a "lack of co-ordination." As a result, refugees from Darfur and the conflict zones in Chad are exposed every day to attacks, theft, rape and forced recruitment, the report informs.

As mandated by the UN Security Council in September 2007, the mission was to have consisted of both EUFOR, the military component deployed by the EU, and the UN's MINURCAT, in charge of training the Chadian police and improving the justice system.

So far, only 320 Chadian police have been trained to provide security, but they have not yet been deployed in the refugee camps, where EUFOR troops have no jurisdiction.

Sally Chin, the author of the report, wondered at a press briefing in Brussels why the UN opted for a "mid-term," training mission, instead of immediately deploying a policing mission. She emphasised that the responsibility for delaying the deployment of MINURCAT in the refugee camps lies both with the UN and the Chadian government.

With the MINURCAT mandate running out on 25 September, Oxfam is urging the EU to make clear recommendations to the UN Security Council to immediately deploy police troops and speed up the training of the Chadian forces.

"The EU must take greater responsibility for the success of the whole mission, not just EUFOR. The EU has spent €10 million on the MINURCAT police force and must ensure that it is deployed and provides people with the protection they urgently need", said Elise Ford, Oxfam's humanitarian policy advisor in Brussels.

"As the EU's largest ever military mission, Chad is an important test of the EU's role in protecting civilians and resolving conflict," she added.

EUFOR's mandate in Chad ends on 15 March next year, and therefore it is necessary to begin planning now for a follow-on mission to ensure the security of the displaced people, according to Oxfam.

Lessons for the EU mission in Georgia

Asked about what lessons could be drawn from the Chad EU mission for the prospective mission to Georgia, Ms Ford told EUobserver that the main hurdle was the considerable amount of time from when the mission was appointed until it was actually deployed, six months later.

"I'd hope the EU had learnt from that the need to act much more quickly. Also, we need to see how to improve the capability of responding to these crisis situations, and Georgia is another interesting example," she said.

As to the term-limit of a future mission to Georgia, judged in the light of the experience of a short EUFOR mandate in Chad, Ms Ford said: "[There], it was a bridging operation, designed to be a 12-month operation until the UN was able to come in. I would imagine that with Georgia there wouldn't be another mission with the clear intention of following on, so the situation is slightly different."

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