By Eric C. Sigmund
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
N’DJAMENA, Chad — The United Nations Security Counsel on Tuesday authorized the gradual withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers in Chad and the Central African Republic.
The pullout comes at a time when hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees have flooded the two nations as a result of the war in Darfur. Despite a number of successful nation building endeavors, the U.N. will withdrawal the 3,300 troops stationed in Chad and the Central African Republic by the end of the year.
Although the peacekeepers have played a significant role in protecting civilians and refugees, Idriss Déby, President of Chad, has consistently criticized the United Nations’ role in the country. Despite protest from a number of diplomats and international organizations, the United Nations contends that it has no authority to maintain a presence in a country without its permission.
The unanimous decision was supported by Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon who recommended the withdrawal in a report earlier this week. Mr. Moon contends that the decision will make the governments of Chad and Central African Republic responsible for the protection of its citizens and will facilitate development. Critics of the decision however, embrace a more pessimistic view. Representatives for Amnesty International stated that the decision is “premature and dangerous” as the region remains volatile and susceptible to violent unrest.
The safety and wellbeing of the 450,000 refugees currently living in Chad is just one concern of critics. The U.N. office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that nearly two million people are dealing with food shortages as a result of drought in the region. Others worry that the withdrawal will create a power vacuum, opening the unstable countries to bandits and rebels.
Despite the troop withdrawal, the U.N. has vowed to continue to support the development of Chad and the Central African Republic by contributing humanitarian aid and political support. During the remaining months, the peacekeepers will continue to secure the resettlement of Sudanese refugees and elevate tensions.
For more information, please see:
Associated Press –UN Agrees to Pull UN Peacekeeping Force from Chad – 25 May 2010
U.N. News Centre –Security Council Votes to End U.N. Mission in Chad and Central African Republic – 25 May 2010
Independent Online – Holmes Examines Food Security in Chad – 24 May 2010