U.N. Members States' Failure to Supply Equipment Stalls Deployment of U.N. Peacekeepers in Darfur, Chad and Central Africa Republic, Says Amnesty International
Amnesty International warned today that the failure of U.N. member states to contribute needed technical and equipment support for peacekeeping in Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic has stalled troop deployment, placing civilian lives at continued risk.
Amnesty International said this failure dims hope that the international community is truly determined to resolve the region's crisis.
"Words and hand-wringing are not enough. The international community must now demonstrate its sincerity in trying to solve this crisis by providing the necessary equipment to forces being sent to protect civilians in extremely dangerous and difficult circumstances," said Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of Amnesty International's Africa program.
A U.N. force for Chad and Central African Republic, known as MINURCAT, was supposed to deploy in November with a mandate to protect civilians, with support from the European Union force known as EUFOR.
Over the last few days, fierce fighting between the Chadian national army and armed opposition movements resumed along the Chad-Sudan border.
"The escalation of violence in Chad underlines the urgent need for a U.N. force to deploy to the eastern part of the country immediately," said Hondora.
Despite this upsurge in violence, the deployment of EUFOR troops is being delayed due to lack of ground and air transport equipment. No countries have either pledged or delivered any equipment for the mission, which leaves actual deployment unclear.
"Not even one helicopter has been offered by any EU country to support this force, which is ostensibly being sent to try to protect the lives and safety of hundreds of thousands of extremely vulnerable civilians in Chad," said Hondora.
This mirrors the problems being faced by the joint U.N.-AU forces being deployed in Darfur, who are also woefully under-equipped for the job.
"The lives of thousands in eastern Chad, Central African Republic and Darfur are being put at risk because of a failure of U.N. member states to pledge and deliver ground and air transport equipment so necessary for them to carry out their peacekeeping work safely and effectively," Hondora said.
"How are peacekeeping forces in eastern Chad, Central African Republic and Darfur to protect civilians in accordance with the original timeframes for deployment if they are not adequately resourced?" asked Hondora.
Since 2005, thousands have died in the conflict in eastern Chad. In Darfur, attacks by government and other armed militias have caused at least 200,000 deaths since 2003. Hundreds of women and girls have been raped. Entire villages have been plundered and burned to the ground. More than 170,000 people now live in camps for the internally displaced scattered across eastern Chad, while more than 1 million live in such camps in Darfur.
A total of 240,000 refugees from Darfur have fled attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces and Janjawid militias and armed opposition groups in Darfur since 2003. The refugees have sought shelter in 12 camps in Chad and are almost completely dependent on humanitarian aid.
Starting in 2005, mass attacks and forced displacement spread from Darfur into Chad as Janjawid and their local Chadian allies plundered villages and killed local farmers. There are more than 180,000 Chadians now sheltering in settlements in and around refugee camps in eastern Chad.
On September 25, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1778, authorizing the establishment in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic of a U.N. operation (MINURCAT), alongside a European military operation.