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Chad, CAR, Darfur Must Be Tackled Together - UN

Chad, Central African Republic, Darfur must be tackled together - Ban Ki-moon

3 April 2008 - The flare-up of civil strife, cross-border tension and displacement involving Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Sudan should be addressed in a unified manner that is outside the mandate of the mission currently being deployed by the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a report released today.

In his report on the Mission in CAR and Chad, known as MINURCAT, Mr. Ban writes: "The internal crisis in Chad, the situation facing refugees and internally displaced persons [IDPs] in eastern Chad and the Central African Republic, the tensions between Chad and the Sudan and the situation in Darfur should be addressed simultaneously."

This should be done, he adds, in a coordinated effort that takes into account the root causes of the internal conflicts and the regional dimensions of those problems.

"To date, however, neither MINURCAT nor EUFOR is ideally mandated to address these issues," he says, with the latter acronym referring to the European support force.

The innovative, multi-dimensional MINURCAT was set up by the Security Council last September to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the northeast of the CAR and eastern Chad and in the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.

It was mandated to comprise 300 police and 50 military liaison officers, as well as civilian staff, focusing on the areas of civil affairs, human rights and the rule of law. The strength as of 1 April stood at 163 national and 64 national staff.

Deployment was delayed when Chadian rebels advanced from the area of the border with Sudan in a bid to take Chad's capital, N'Djamena in early February. Though the rebels were eventually driven out of the city, street fighting left many dead and UN staff were evacuated.

Also in early February, about 10,000 people from West Darfur sought refuge in eastern Chad following a series of deadly air and land attacks by the Sudanese Government and its allied militia.

In addition, the Prime Minister of the CAR resigned in January and in the subsequent period many thousands fled their villages due to raids by armed groups, with many making their way to Chad.

These problems are complex and all require comprehensive solutions worked out between the many parties involved, Mr. Ban notes in the report.

"While the international community can assist the parties in settling their internal and bilateral differences through constructive means, in the final analysis the parties themselves must demonstrate the political will and commitment necessary to resolve the underlying political and security challenges in the area," he says.

He maintains that it is crucial, in particular, for Chad and Sudan to reach a negotiated and comprehensive settlement of their disputes, and he welcomes the signing of an agreement on 14 March in Dakar between the presidents of the two countries that called for reconciliation and normalization of relations.

In addition, with conditions remaining perilous in eastern Chad, the protection of refugees, IDPs and the flow of humanitarian aid must be assured, he says.

As the Chadian Government seeks increased coverage of IDP sites by its police force, Mr. Ban will ask that the review of MINURCAT and EUFOR, which is due in September, look at this issue and develop recommendations.

ENDS

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