UN Chad troop withdrawal nearly complete

2010-12-16 07:39

N'Djamena - Almost the entire 2 200-strong UN force deployed in Chad and the Central African Republic has left, a senior Chadian general said on Wednesday, dismissing fears of ensuing insecurity.

"Practically all the soldiers left on November 25. There is only a small logistical team left (in Chad) to oversee the remnants of the pull out," General Oki Dagache told AFP.

"We have started the last phase of the pull out and things are proceeding normally," he said. "The departure of the Minurcat will not pose a security problem because it did not protect the local population."

The Minurcat, or the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic and Chad, was set up in 2007 to protect civilians; promote human rights and the rule of law; and promote regional peace in the restive region, home to refugees from the Central African Republic and Sudan's Darfur region.

In January 2009, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of a military component of Minurcat to follow up the European Union military force, known as Eufor, which was completing its mandate.

Chad's President Idriss Deby has criticised the UN mission as "a failure", and accused the troops of remaining behind the safety of their razor-wire fences and not venturing out to help refugees.

UN agencies, however, have warned that the planned departure of the peacekeepers could leave a security vacuum in eastern Chad, where humanitarian workers face constant attacks by bandits.