CHAD: Obstacles to getting peacekeepers on ground
As the United Nations Security Council prepares for discussions this week on sending peacekeepers to eastern Chad, aid agencies working there are pressing the humanitarian need for rapid deployment, but observers in New York say significant political and logistical obstacles remain to getting boots on the ground.
The UN Security Council has been considering sending peacekeepers to Chad since last November when it asked the UN to send an assessment mission to Chad, Sudan and CAR to the south, which has also suffered from a spill-over of fighting.
The November mission concluded Chad's government and the rebel groups there needed to reach a peace agreement before peacekeepers could go in. But in January the Security Council demanded another assessment.
The report from that mission is expected to be ready by Monday.
Britain's Security Council representative, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, said he recognised the urgent humanitarian need for military support, and said the UN has a "responsibility" to help protect civilians there.
Britain is one of the five powerful permanent members of the Security Council (P5) with the power to veto any resolution.
"The plight of those living in Chad and north-eastern CAR, in particular those in IDP and refugee camps, is getting worse and worse as violence from Darfur spills over the border," Parry told IRIN on Friday.
"The Secretary-General's recommendations on the options available to the UN are expected soon. The Security Council should respond urgently. If a UN mission can help to provide the protection that is needed, we would support it," Parry said.
Photo: Chadian army soldiers from the refugee camp's protection force play cards and prepare dinner at the refugee camp of Gaga, eastern Chad Tuesday Feb. 13, 2007. At least 230,000 ethnic Africans have fled Darfur to take refuge in camps in neighboring Chad and their numbers are steadily growing. But the refugees crowded into 12 camps are now facing increased tensions with Chadians in a competition for scarce resources in the large, barren border region. (AP Photo/Alfred de Montesquiou)