Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chad: Security situation improves in eastern Chad, but concerns remain

Women at Ouré Cassoni refugee camp in eastern Chad

The withdrawal of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad at the end of last year so far does not appear to have adversely affected security in eastern Chad, the UN’s top humanitarian official told the Security Council today.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, briefed the Council on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report concerning the protection of civilians in Chad.

The report also provides information on human rights violations, including reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, particularly at the time of legislative elections in February.

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) was established in 2007 to contribute to the protection of civilians; promote human rights and the rule of law; and promote regional peace. It completed its mandate at the end of 2010, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolution and at the request of the Chadian Government, which had pledged to take full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory.

Speaking to the Council, Ms. Amos cited various factors which had contributed to improved security situation for civilians in eastern Chad. These included better bilateral relations between Chad and Sudan; the deployment of a joint border force on their shared border; an increase in the number and deployment of personnel providing security in and around camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and for humanitarian operations. As well, there have been no reports of armed clashes in eastern Chad since April 2010.

“Despite these positive developments, the Council must remain vigilant about the situation in Chad. Remnants of Chadian opposition armed groups that have not demobilised continue to pose a potential threat. Although there has been a decline in banditry, violent attacks are still a daily threat for the civilian population in many parts of Chad, including in the south of the country, where there have been increased reports.”

Regional developments in Sudan, the CAR and Libya are also being felt in Chad. Ms. Amos said that by 5 May, 42,000 Chadians had fled the crisis in Libya which had been home to an estimated 300,000 Chadian migrants.

“The situation in Libya has also affected the Chadian economy by cutting off remittances and disrupting commercial trade. It is the poor and most vulnerable that will be affected first,” Ms. Amos said. “World Food Programme operations in eastern Chad have been affected as the organisation can no longer bring food supplies through Libya.”

Ms. Amos said that, on balance, the Government had made steady progress in meeting its benchmarks for the protection of civilians. But durable solutions for the 131,000 IDPs in Chad and the 264,000 Sudanese refugees and 64,000 Central African refugees still need to be found.

While noting that the Government has announced that displacement should be over by the end of this year, and some IDPs have returned home, Ms. Amos said many others do not feel it is safe enough for them to do so and are concerned about the lack of basic services in return areas.

“The Government of Chad, with the support of the United Nations, must implement a viable durable solutions strategy coupled with an operational plan that allocates financial and human resources to facilitate the sustainable return and reintegration of the IDPs.”

She said that despite there being improved security, the humanitarian situation remains fragile. Out of a population of 11 million in Chad, 2.5 million people need assistance.

“If there is to be a transition from the chronic humanitarian crisis that has plagued the country in recent years, it is vital that we make the shift from relief to recovery. A sustainable path to long-term economic development is the best way of emerging from the cycle of armed violence, which affects civilians more than anyone else.”