Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy’s trip was announced after Chadian Permanent Representative Ahmad Allam-mi told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York today that that the military component of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) had served its purpose.He said Chad was not calling for an immediate withdrawal of the military component, but an “interim solution” and wished to work out a compromise between total withdrawal and merely extending the mission’s mandate as it stood. MINURCAT was set up in 2007 to ensure the security of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur, other displaced persons and humanitarian workers. But 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 mandate to be adjusted before it expires and comes up for renewal in March, he said. The Security Council today discussed the issue and were briefed on ongoing contacts between the Secretariat and Chadian authorities by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes and Mr. Le Roy on all aspects of the mandate, particularly the positive contributions in the humanitarian field.The 15-member body “expressed their full support for MINURCAT and encouraged further consultations on the way forward,” Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for February, said in a press statement. Accusations that the authorities want the mission out before legislative elections this year, thus removing potential witnesses to fraud, are a “totally baseless rumour,” Mr. Allam-mi said, pointing out that elections were not even included in MINURCAT’s mandate. The polls would take place under the aegis of the European Union, and many international observers would be in the country to ensure they were free and transparent, he added.The mission currently comprises some 2,800 uniformed personnel and 430 international civilian staff, 400 local civilians and 148 UN Volunteers. Its 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. 17 February 2010The top United Nations peacekeeper is flying to Chad next week after the African country called for the withdrawal of the military component of the UN mission that was set up over two years ago after tensions increased along the border with Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.
Almost 20,000 people from the Central African Republic (CAR) have crossed into Cameroon since the beginning of February to escape the ongoing violence in their homeland, the United Nations refugee agency reported today. This is up from 4,764 CAR refugees in the first week of this month, and it brings to 35,142 the total number of CAR refugees who have fled to Cameroon since March 2013, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The conflict in CAR erupted when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012 and has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms. The crisis has already claimed thousands of lives, uprooted almost one million people and left more than 2.5 million people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior UN officials have called for increased international efforts to end the killing and alleviate the suffering of the people of CAR. Yesterday, Mr. Ban put forward a six-point initiative for addressing the most urgent priorities and needs, including more troops and police, increased efforts for the peace process, support for the Government, funding for humanitarian assistance and accountability. “We must step up our efforts,” he told reporters after briefing the Security Council. “The international community is working hard to protect people from atrocities, restore stability and provide emergency relief, but it is simply not enough.” UNHCR said the growing number of new arrivals in Cameroon and their need for food and other basic necessities – such as cooking oil, rice, cassava, fish, beef, vegetables, sugar, salt, soap, fuel and other items – have resulted in higher prices and shortage of goods on the local market. Local residents are also feeling the pinch with rent increases. “New arrivals from CAR are living in appalling conditions. Most of them lack food and shelter. Generous host communities have taken in many people, but they cannot share their homes and resources with everyone,” UNHCR spokesperson Dan McNorton told reporters in Geneva. Before the current crisis, Cameroon was hosting 92,000 refugees from CAR; the first started to arrive in 2006 to escape from rebel groups and bandits in the north of their country. UN agencies and humanitarian partners are scaling up their delivery of life-saving aid as fast as security and access conditions allow, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), whose chief, Valerie Amos, just concluded a visit to CAR. “However, access to people in need continues to be severely constrained by active hostilities, attacks on aid workers and assets and interference into relief activities,” OCHA stated. The humanitarian community is calling on donors to give generously to support relief efforts in CAR, which is currently severely underfunded. Only 15 per cent of the resources needed for the $551 million Strategic Response Plan for CAR have been received, despite generous pledges made at a funding conference in Brussels last month.