Using science and medicine to stop human rights violations
New Danger Facing Darfuris in Eastern Chad: Chadian Government Opposes MINURCAT Renewal
Reuters South Africa reported on Monday that Chadian official General Oky Dagache has asked the UN not to renew the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). While not unexpected, the Chadian government’s reluctance to extend the MINURCAT operation, in particular the military component, is concerning due to the essential role played by the MINURCAT force in enabling humanitarian operations in eastern Chad and in north-eastern Central African Republic (CAR). Without the presence of MINURCAT, all food distribution, water, sanitation, health, and education, would have to cease immediately with the evacuation of International NGO (humanitarian) and UN staff.The current MINURCAT mandate is due to expire on March 15, 2010, after one year of operation. The security situation in eastern Chad would make humanitarian operations in the region would be impossible without the MINURCAT force. The force was established by the UN Security Council to provide a multidimensional presence of police and military personnel to eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic, responsible for ensuring security for humanitarian actions. The reality of this situation, in which UN security phase IV has been in effect in eastern Chad since November 2006, means that all UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency), World Food Programme (WFP) and other humanitarian staff are dependent on daily convoys to escort them to the twelve Darfuri refugee camps near the Chad/Darfur border.The limitations of the phase IV security measures, implemented to protect UN and humanitarian staff, mean that it is the presence of the MINURCAT police force (the D_tachement int_gr_ de S_curit_ or DIS) that allows continued international NGO operations in eastern Chad, by providing the required military escort. While there have been shortcomings with the DIS force (conduct issues?reported by Amnesty International (PDF)?in September 2009 include disorderly conduct, reckless driving and abuse of refugees), the impact on operations if the force was discontinued in the next twelve months would be catastrophic. Even with DIS and MINURCAT presence, two attacks have taken place recently: a convoy of UNHCR and WFP vehicles travelling between camps at Goz Beida and Koku at the end of December, and a similar convoy en route to the camp at Oure Cassoni on the northeastern Chad-Sudan border at the beginning of January.The Chadian government’s statement on non-renewal of MINURCAT now creates an immediate need for the international community to re-engage with the MINURCAT force, and to honor troop, logistical and material commitments to MINURCAT (which remains at only 50% capacity). PHR continues to advocate for the full deployment of MINURCAT uniformed personnel, specifically encouraging all troop contributing countries and police contributing countries to recruit female officers. Furthermore, the UNSC should expedite the appointment of a Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security (in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1820 ), to assess the state of protection for refugee and IDP women and girls, and report back to the Security Council no later than March 2010 on a comprehensive assessment of current needs and programs in place. Crucially, the assessment should include Sudanese, Chadian and CAR authorities’ cooperation with aid operations and new or ongoing civilian protection concerns---with clear and strategic recommendations for realizing the goals of Resolution 1820.In addition to the above issues, however, it is important that the MINURCAT mandate be expanded, and not just extended, beyond March 15. The UNSC should further extend the mandate of MINURCAT to meet the benchmarks for withdrawal (outlined in the UN Secretary-General’s report of December 2008) and strengthen current work to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against Darfuri women and girls. It is essential that MINURCAT cooperates with the competent Sudanese, Chadian and CAR authorities to support the disarming, arrest and detention of criminals involved in gender-based violence: any MINURCAT, UN or international NGO personnel reasonably suspected of crimes under Sudanese, Chadian and international human rights law should be immediately discharged, and access to treatment and support for survivors of rape and sexual violence must be realized.