Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chad Update: European Union to Send 3,000 Troops to Eastern Region; More Communal Conflict

BRUSSELS, Belgium 16 October 2007 Sapa-AP


The head of the U.N.'s refugee agency on Tuesday welcomed an EU
decision to send 3,000 peacekeepers to eastern Chad, saying it would contribute to efforts to help civilians fleeing violence in neighboring Sudan.

"It is a key instrument to allow for the security of the refugees
... and for the possibility of a more effective humanitarian
operation," said Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for

EU foreign ministers gave their final approval Monday to the
deployment of European troops to areas of Chad and the Central African Republic which border Sudan's Darfur region. The U.N. estimates over 400,000 refugees and internally displaced people are living in camps in Chad, most of them coming from Darfur.

The Darfur region is rife with violence between an array of rebels,
government forces and bandits, hampering efforts to get aid to refugees in remote border camps.

Before talks with EU defense officials, Guterres told reporters the
European force "will give a very positive contribution to the
establishment of an acceptable security situation in that area."

France will provide more than half the EU troops, triggering concern
from aid groups that the force could be perceived in the region as
partial, given the long French involvement in the region and support
for the Chad's government against rebel groups.

"One of the things which is very important is that this force
assumes a position of neutrality," Guterres said. "I've no doubt that
will happen."

EU nations have given the force a one-year mandate, but Guterres
refused to rule out a possible extension, saying much would depend on efforts to negotiate a peace deal between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups.

The EU mission is expected to start deploying next month. It will be
in addition to a planned 26,000-member joint African Union-UN
peacekeeping force in Darfur.

N'DJAMENA 16 October 2007 Sapa-AFP


Chad's government on Tuesday slapped a state of emergency oh three regions in the north and east of the central African country after
clashes between rival ethnic groups.

The state of emergency was ordered for 12 days at a special cabinet
meeting, said a senior government official, who requested anonymity and added that the aim was to allow the army to search and disarm insurgents.

At least 20 people have been killed in recent days in fighting in
the Dar Tama department east of the capital, N'Djamena. The clashes have been between ethnic Tamas and Zaghawas.

President Idriss Deby Itno and many members of his entourage are
Zaghawas, but his new defence minister Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim, a Tama and a main former rebel leader, on Monday accused Zaghawas of attacking Tamas.

Mahamat Nour added that hundreds have died from starvation and in
fighting in Dar Tama, while their cattle had been stolen.

The state of emergency covers the Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti
highlands in the north of Chad, the Ouaddai region which includes the main eastern city of Abeche, where there is a military base, and Wadi Fira, which includes the Dar Tama department.

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