UN to take over European Union security force in Chad, CAR
A United Nations peacekeeping mission will assume responsibility on Sunday of providing security to refugees and war-displaced people in eastern Chad and northeastern Central African Republic, the UN said Friday, dpa reported.
The UN mission, with 5,200 military troops and known as MINURCAT, will take over European Union troops posted in the past year at the region between Chad and CAR where tens of thousands have taken refuge from fighting in Sudan's Darfur and Chad.
The EU force was to end its mission on Sunday. But troops from Albania, Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Ireland, Poland and Russia under the departing EU force will remain to serve under the UN mission. Fresh troops from some African and Asian countries will also join the mission.
The London-based Oxfam relief agency said the EU force had been able to provide some security to the refugee population, but the overall security situation had not significantly improved.
"Crimes still go unpunished and banditry is a daily reality for thousands of civilians," said Pauline Ballaman, Oxfam manager in Chad. "Incoming UN troops must stand tall and act upon these violations."
"The new UN force must tackle the widespread insecurity as its No. 1 priority," she said. "People in Chad still live in fear and insecurity. Women are attacked and raped as they seek food for their families and aid workers are under increasing attack."
Oxfam said aid agencies operating in the region have been attacked an average of 25 times a month since last November, forcing some of them to temporarily suspend their activities because of the high level of insecurity.
It said there are more than 250,000 Sudanese refugees, 180,000 internally displaced people and about 70,000 refugees from Central African Republic already living in Chad. Oxfam questioned whether Chad would be able to absorb new refugees under the insecurity situation.