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Chad and UN officials agree on major downsizing in peacekeeping force

23 April 2010 – United Nations and Chadian officials today agreed on a major initial reduction of peacekeepers there after the Government had called for the withdrawal of the UN mission’s military component.

The 3,351 troops now stationed in the African country as part of UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), set up over two years ago amid increasing unrest, partly due to the war in neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur region and consequent influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, will been downsized to 1,900 as a first stage, the mission spokesman Penangnini Touré said in N’Djamena, the Chadian capital.

In calling for the end of the military component in February, Chad said the force had served its purpose. With new agreements on border security with Sudan, and with MINURCAT not strong enough to provide complete security in eastern Chad, it was better for Chadian forces to take over and for the mission’s mandate to be adjusted, Chadian Permanent Representative Ahmad Allam-mi told a news conference at UN Headquarters that month.

In March the Security Council extended the mandate through 15 May, with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy saying this technical roll-over would “give some time to try to find agreement with the Chadian authorities.”

“The Government took note of the full range of responsibilities associated with the protection of civilians in accordance with international law,” Mr. Touré said of today’s talks, the third in a series on the mandate and future configuration of MINURCAT. “The Government is expected to fully assume these responsibilities starting 16 May 2010.

“The two parties have identified areas of support in which MINURCAT may have a role once a new mandate is granted,” he added, noting that the tasks of this new Force have also been redefined in line with the downsizing.

The results of the talks are to be presented to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and through him to the Security Council for a final decision. “The parties conducted these consultations in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect,” Mr. Touré said. The Council held consultations on the issue today.

The mission currently comprises 3,814 uniformed personnel, including 3,351 troops, 24 military observers and 259 police officers, supported by 428 international civilian personnel, 504 local civilian staff and 143 UN Volunteers. Its current mandate calls for it to liaise with the national forces to create a more secure environment, combating in particular the problems of banditry and criminality; and to support efforts to relocate refugee camps which are close to the border.

In the humanitarian field, it is entrusted with promoting human rights, with particular attention to sexual and gender-based violence, recommending action to fight impunity, and assisting the Government in promoting the rule of law, including support for an independent judiciary and a strengthened legal system.

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