UN to pull out of Chad, CAR

2010-05-26 11:34

New York - The UN Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to withdraw the full UN contingent from Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) by year's end at Ndjamena's request.

The 15-member body adopted a resolution that initially cuts the military component of the UN mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) from 3 300 to 2 200 military personnel (1900 in Chad and 300 in CAR) and 25 military liaison officers.

It directed UN chief Ban Ki-moon to make the first cut by July 15 and to start the final withdrawal of the remaining troops on October 15 this year.

The resolution called on Ban "to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian MINURCAT components, other than those required for the mission's liquidation, by December 31 2010."

And it extended the mandate of MINURCAT, which expires on Wednesday, to December 31.

The council also took note of the commitment of the Chadian government "to assume full responsibility for the security and the protection of the civilian population in eastern Chad."

Included among them were "refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and host communities, with a particular focus on women and children, UN and humanitarian personnel and their assets."

The UN force, which currently also includes 1 075 civilians, was deployed from March 2009 in place of a European force to protect hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur in Sudan and displaced Chadians.

But the Chadian government of President Idriss Deby wants the UN force gone by the end of the year, while UN relief coordinator John Holmes said recently that the force would leave the country within months.

Ahead of the UN vote, Amnesty International expressed alarm at the expected decision to authorize a troop withdrawal from eastern Chad, warning the move could endanger thousands of refugees.

"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.

"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.