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Chad: the relay is being prepared between EUFOR and Minurcat II

(BRUSSELS2) For the EU military mission (Eufor) in Chad and the Central African Republic, the coming months will be punctuated by the handover to the UN force (Minurcat II). Staff are being recruited at the UN and could begin to be deployed in early February (a chief has just been appointed). The objective is to ensure a “smooth” transition with EUFOR and to prepare for the reception of additional troops.

This transition will not be as easy as hoped. Because, for the moment, few countries – apart from those participating in Eufor – have rushed to make offers. And the humanitarian and security situation remains precarious. While relations with Sudan remain unstable. Two Eufor vehicles were thus destroyed by the Sudanese. In the Birak area, two Sudanese Mi24 helicopters opened fire on a Eufor patrol on November 15, without causing any casualties. Note that a donor conference will take place in early 2009 in Brussels to provide the special trust fund, making it possible in particular to train the new Chadian security force – the Integrated Security Detachment (DIS) – of which the government intends to double effective.

The precarious humanitarian and security situation

Military deterrence needed against banditry. “Thefts from occupied cars, armed robberies and crimes targeting humanitarian personnel and Chadian citizens and refugees have continued. Attacks by heavily armed bandits constitute the most immediate and constant threat weighing on the civilian population and humanitarian operations,” explains Ban Ki Moon’s report published in early December. “This is a threat of a criminal nature, manifested primarily through the use of military armaments, including heavy weapons. Countering this threat requires more than policing: military deterrence is needed. When this is not enough, military intervention is necessary. ". Repeated attacks. The Sam Oundja refugee camp which houses 3 refugees from Darfur was attacked by an unidentified armed group on 000 November. Following this attack, EUFOR evacuated nine aid workers to Birao. The Birak area is also tense. Villages around the city were attacked at the beginning of November, killing 8 and destroying 8 houses (out of 240). Lasting support. It is estimated that around 300 people are currently receiving assistance. “Without sufficient security conditions, refugees are unlikely to return to their places of origin. They will therefore continue to depend to a large extent on external assistance.”

UN force concept

Larger area of ​​operations.

The UN force would take over Eufor's missions - preventing hostilities, reassuring the civilian population, improving the delivery of humanitarian assistance, ensuring the protection of UN personnel and installations - but in an area operations, and with additional responsibilities, including ensuring security conditions conducive to the recently initiated deployment of a lightly armed integrated security detachment (ISD).

The workforce will therefore be greater than that of Eufor

4900 men asked the general secretary. Below the first figure of 6000 announced by the UN. But above what the Chadian authorities wanted. These in fact refused a deployment of too large a force, accepting first 3000 then 3500 men, 4500 and finally 4900 men, after negotiation between Déby and the UN Secretary General in Doha. (the EU force numbers around 3700 men). Six sites in Chad, the UN force will be distributed over six sites (at the rate of half a battalion of around 400 men per site), initially Iriba, Guéréda, Farchana and Goz Beida (Eufor sites) , and subsequently Bahai and Koukou-Goz Amer (two sites to be created), and should be able to carry out “24 security patrols daily”. A memorandum of understanding should formalize the agreement between the UN and the Government of Chad on the transfer to MINURCAT of the use of all EUFOR sites, as well as related infrastructure and, above all, rights relating to the drilling and use of water wells.

Mobile reserve.

A mobile reserve, the size of a battalion (800 men), will have to ensure a capacity to increase in power in the event of a new threat. All supported by 18 helicopters. Light secondment in the Central African Republic. The presence of Minurcat II will be reduced in the country. A small military detachment of about fifteen officers could suffice, charged " liaise with local authorities and key stakeholders, maintain situational awareness, and assess the condition of the Birao airfield and determine necessary maintenance work ". Indeed, both on the side of Eufor and the UN, it is estimated that there is no lasting and major threat in this region. The main risks are located in the north-west and south-east of the country (which would suppose both a change of mandate for Minurcat II and more substantial forces between 500 and 1000 men).

Slow rise in power.

The sector battalions, the reserve force, as well as logistical support, the transport force (road and air), the medical capacity will be based in Abéché during the first phase of transition. Deployments of troops and equipment will be extremely limited during the rainy season. Full numbers will not be reached until October 2009. That is the same time it took Eufor to ramp up (one might wonder why so much time, when the UN had more than a year to prepare). French logistical support? “In extremis support” may be requested from certain UN Member States “to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel and installations”, as well as logistics, “in the event that the force of the Nations United Nations would not be able to deal with the situation” (we are of course thinking of France and its Epervier operation which will, in this case, be best placed to provide this support).

A force established over time.

Six criteria have been set by the UN to end Minurcat II. Criteria, logical, but which, given the situation on the spot, augur a long presence of the UN force:

  • (a) Voluntary return and resettlement in safe conditions of a critical mass of displaced persons;
  • (b) Demilitarization of camps for refugees and displaced persons, evidenced by a reduction in the presence of arms, violence and human rights violations;
  • (c) Capacity of local authorities to adequately protect refugees, internally displaced persons, civilians and humanitarians;
  • (d) Capacity of national police bodies to maintain public order by upholding international human rights standards;
  • e) Gradual establishment of an independent and effective judiciary in eastern Chad, contributing to ending impunity, as evidenced by a significant increase in the resources and independence of the justice sector, and the respect shown from his view;
  • (f) Reinforced prison system in eastern Chad, based on a prison administration that respects human rights.

Note that in addition to the UN force, a peace and security force (FPS) – Chadian-Sudanese – would be deployed along the border between Chad and Sudan, with the establishment of posts observation, Chad and Sudan should each deploy a thousand soldiers on their respective borders.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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