AI worried about Chad force pullout
Libreville - Amnesty International (AI) has expressed alarm at an expected UN Security Council decision to withdraw peacekeeping troops from eastern Chad, warning the move could endanger thousands of refugees.
The Security Council meets on Wednesday to decide the fate of the UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad (Minurcat), and Amnesty said in a statement received on Tuesday that the force would likely be pulled out.
The 3 300-strong UN force was deployed from March 2009 in place of a European force to protect hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur in Sudan as well as displaced Chadians.
But the Chadian government of President Idriss Deby wants the troops gone by the end of the year, while UN relief co-ordinator John Holmes said on Sunday that the force would leave the country within months.
"This is not the time for the Chadian government to pull the plug on Minurcat and the Security Council should stand up for the vulnerable women, men and young people living in the region," Amnesty said.
Amnesty said Minurcat had boosted security and upheld human rights, but said "the proposed resolution lays out a timetable for an immediate reduction of troops in the region, leading to the complete withdrawal of troops by the end of the year."
The 15-member Security Council on May 12 unanimously gave itself until May 26 "to examine thoroughly" recommendations put forward by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Ban's recommendations largely follow the outline of a deal struck between Chad and the UN force under which the force would be reduced to 1 900. It would remain in place until at least October 15 and then gradually withdraw.
Amnesty said this was a risk to "approximately 250 000 Darfur refugees, 165 000 displaced Chadians and hundreds of thousands of other Chadians living in the region where Minurcat troops have been deployed".
"It is wholly unacceptable that this resolution is taking place before the Chadian government has shown it has a concrete plan to provide security, and it is deeply disturbing that those whose rights are on the line have essentially been cut out of the debate," said Amnesty's Africa director, Erwin van der Borght.