The situation in Chad, the Central African Republic and the subregion Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (S/2009/199)
|(The Presidency changes each month to the next member in alphabetical order)|
|Mr. La Yifan
|Mr. Le Luong Minh
Adoption of the agenda
The situation in Chad, the Central African Republic and the subregion
Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (S/2009/199)
I should like to inform the Council that I have received letters from the representatives of the Central African Republic, Chad and the Czech Republic, in which they request to be invited to participate in the consideration of the item on the Council’s agenda. In conformity with the usual practice, I propose, with the consent of the Council, to invite those representatives to participate in the consideration of the item, without the right to vote, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter and rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
There being no objection, it is so decided.
In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I shall take it that the Security Council agrees to extend an invitation under rule 39 of its provisional rules of procedure to Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
It is so decided.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda. The Council is meeting in accordance with the understanding reached in its prior consultations.
Members of the Council have before them document S/2009/199, which contains the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad. I should also like to draw the attention of members to photocopies of a letter dated 21 April 2009 from the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council, transmitting the two reports on the activities of the European Union military operation in the Republic of Chad and the Central African Republic, which will be issued as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2009/214.
At this meeting, the Security Council will hear a briefing by Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. I now give the floor.
I thank members for the opportunity to update them on the situation in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic. The Council has before it the quarterly report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) (S/2009/199), which contains comprehensive information about the situation. I should like to take this opportunity to highlight several points of special interest and to inform members about several key developments that have occurred since the issuance of the Secretary-General’s report, in particular concerning force generation and the Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS).
As members are aware, MINURCAT, which took over from the European Union-led military force (EUFOR) on 15 March 2009, is a new force. It has benefited from the decision of several countries that have contributed troops to EUFOR to extend the deployment of their troops under MINURCAT. In addition, several other Member States, including Ghana and Togo, were also able to deploy troops before the transfer of authority between EUFOR and MINURCAT on 15 March. Thanks to those contributions, MINURCAT’s force numbered 2,085 troops when authority was transferred and 2,425 on 22 April.
Despite those auspicious beginnings, there is now an urgent need to reinforce MINURCAT up to its authorized strength and to equip it to meet the challenges facing it. As a result, we are concerned by the difficulties that we have encountered in the area of force generation. In a context of strong global demand, MINURCAT had only an extremely brief window of time between the Council’s authorization of the force and the transfer of authority; the troop-contributing countries had only two months to prepare.
Thus, Ghana recently indicated that it would not be able to deploy a full battalion to Farchana by 15 May, as initially planned, because of delays in acquiring equipment for the contingent. Ghana will be able to deploy only a vanguard of 200 troops by mid-May; the remaining 600 troops will deployed by October. Moreover, the Nepalese battalion, which will constitute the reserve force in Abéché, will be able to deploy only 285 troops before the rainy season begins, also because of delays in acquiring equipment for the contingent.
In his report, the Secretary-General foresees a progressive strengthening of MINURCAT’s force from 2,085 troops on 15 March to 3,845 by the end of June, to reach its full strength of 5,200 by the end of 2009. Regrettably, we are now obliged to make a number of adjustments following the delays to which I have just referred. When the rainy season begins at the end of June, MINURCAT’s force strength will probably be approximately 3,000 troops, with units present in all sectors and a small reserve force in Abéché. We expect that, with the full deployment of contingents later in the year, the force’s strength will reach 4,700 troops by the end of 2009. We will reach the ceiling of 5,200 troops only if Member States provide the Mission with military helicopters and their support elements.
That leads me to the second difficulty, which we must overcome as soon as possible: the lack of elements essential to the force, particularly a communications unit in Abéché and most of the military helicopters required. Currently, we have received offers of only six military helicopters, including four Mi-8s provided by the Russian Federation; 12 more helicopters are still needed. It has also been difficult to operationalize the helicopters that we already have. Those four helicopters can be used for operations only with the written agreement of the troop contributor. We are trying to obtain such authorization as swiftly as possible. In addition, although Uruguay has pledged to provide two helicopters, that commitment must still be approved by the Uruguayan parliament.
I cannot stress strongly enough the risk posed by the lack of military helicopters to the operational effectiveness of the force. The concept of operations provides for the presence of military helicopters with the capacity to carry out both day and night operations, to ensure that the force has the required mobility, capacity to project and deterrent force 24 hours a day. The Mission’s civilian helicopters have a capacity that is limited to medical evacuations and providing support to patrols as a result of restrictions concerning night operations and the need for prior approval regarding their landing sites.
Furthermore, although MINURCAT is capable of conducting an average of 15 ground patrols per day, these are currently limited in duration and scope, as longer patrols require reliable and effective air support to guarantee medical evacuation capacity. I would therefore like to call upon the members of the Security Council to do everything within their power to ensure that MINURCAT has the military helicopters required to implement its mandate and to minimize the risks facing the Mission’s troops.
It is all the more urgent to strengthen MINURCAT given the security, political and humanitarian challenges described the report of the Secretary-General. At the political level, there has been little progress in the implementation of the political processes under way in Chad and between Chad and the Sudan. The implementation of the 13 August 2007 agreement between the Chadian Government and the political opposition is currently deadlocked as a result of disagreement regarding the electoral law. The troops of the armed Chadian opposition remain outside the process and continue to consolidate their forces in western Darfur. On the Chadian side of the border, Chadian National Armed Forces have also strengthened their positions, and the climate is tense.
In such a context, relations between the Sudan and Chad remain difficult. I hope that the Contact Group for the 13 March 2008 Dakar agreement between Chad and the Sudan will be able to meet again in the near future. I would like to encourage the members of the Council to use their influence to re-launch the Dakar process and to prompt the Government of Chad, the political opposition and the armed opposition groups to make more progress in moving towards lasting and inclusive peace in Chad. In this regard, the Secretary-General welcomes the efforts of Libya and Qatar.
In the absence of political reconciliation, especially in Darfur, the humanitarian situation remains particularly difficult. As the Secretary-General indicates in his report, 250,000 Sudanese refugees, 160,000 internally displaced persons and 700,000 among the local population in the east of Chad are dependent on humanitarian assistance. In March, 15 non-governmental organizations wrote to the Government of Chad to express their concern regarding the security situation, which, according to them, is currently deteriorating. They cited the great number of incidents of banditry and armed attacks against humanitarian personnel.
Beyond the zone of responsibility of MINURCAT, in eastern Chad, other developments are also ground for concern. A meningitis epidemic has developed in the country, with 914 cases counted by the World Health Organization as of 15 April. In southern Chad, the ongoing flow of refugees from the Central African Republic into the Salamat region was the result of clashes between Central African Armed Forces and rebel factions in the north of the country. Between mid-January and 19 April, 17,621 new refugees were counted in a number of sites near the border, where they have been receiving assistance from the humanitarian community since February. Access to these sites, however, is difficult and will be even more so after the start of the rainy season.
Given the lack of security in eastern Chad, MINURCAT support to the Chadian community police force known as the Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS), which provides law and order in refugee camps and other humanitarian sites, is particularly critical. The 850-strong DIS is now fully trained, and 775 officers are deployed across eastern Chad, a significant achievement on the part of MINURCAT and the Government. But the DIS is a very new body and needs to be further consolidated and guided to carry out its vital functions in a manner consistent with its concept of operations. This is made clear by recent incidents of DIS ill-discipline, notably the alleged murder of a civilian by a DIS commander in Farchana on 22 March. We are working with the Government of Chad to ensure that DIS posts are equipped with gun safes and weapons storage facilities, where the weapons of off-duty DIS officers would be kept. We are also encouraged that the Chadian authorities have submitted this case to the judicial system.
In a further troubling incident, DIS officers themselves came under attack on 15 April, when a group of around 25 armed individuals attacked the DIS station in Farchana and stole a number of weapons, as well as ammunition, communications equipment and personal belongings. A DIS officer and a security guard were injured. Information gathered by a MINURCAT fact-finding team suggests that the attackers may have been military elements. The Government of Chad has also launched an investigation into the incident.
The events just described highlight two different problems: cases of ill-discipline and the vulnerability of the DIS to attacks. In our response to these problems, we must strike a balance between maintaining the credibility and safety of the DIS and the need for the contingent to retain the trust of those it is intended to support, namely internally displaced persons, refugees, the local population and the humanitarian community. Following the attack on the DIS of 15 April and given the current lack of law and order in eastern Chad, the Government of Chad has proposed to equip the DIS with AK-47 submachine guns. This proposal requires careful consideration in order to ensure that the DIS maintains its community policing character, consistent with the concept endorsed by the Council in resolution 1778 (2007) of 25 September 2007.
In the coming weeks, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will conduct a midterm review of the DIS, in cooperation with other departments and United Nations agencies. The review will take stock of the concept and performance of the DIS, including the issues I have just described, as well as the impact of United Nations support and the way forward. We will also assess the funding situation and means of increasing international support for the DIS and broader rule-of-law efforts by MINURCAT in eastern Chad. It is vital that we match the deployment of the DIS with corresponding progress in the areas of judicial and penal reform and respect for human rights, and I encourage Council members and donors to support these needs through the Trust Fund for the Support of the Activities of MINURCAT.
As outlined in the report, significant efforts were made during the reporting period to put in place the necessary legal and administrative arrangements for the deployment of MINURCAT’s military component. As the Council is aware, on 13 February the United Nations and the Government of Chad signed a memorandum of understanding on the transfer of sites and infrastructure. In accordance with that agreement, MINURCAT is working to build new airport parking spaces as quickly as possible. Following a recent Government request that MINURCAT provide prior notification of its aviation parking needs, we have reiterated that the memorandum of understanding provides for unimpeded access to the two airport parking spaces in N’Djamena and Abéché.
Unfortunately, certain legal arrangements are yet to be finalized, including amendments to the Status of Mission Agreements to reflect the military component of MINURCAT. We have called upon the Governments of Chad and the Central African Republic to conclude these amendments, which were submitted to them in draft form on 3 and 18 March, respectively. We also look forward to the finalization of memorandums of understanding with Libya and Cameroon to provide for the transit of goods through their territories, which are currently under discussion with both Governments.
Finally, further to the request of the Council, I am pleased to report that the Mission is developing a strategic workplan, including mechanisms to measure and track progress on the implementation of MINURCAT’s benchmarks. The plan is expected to be finalized by July 2009 and will be presented in outline form in the next report of the Secretary-General on MINURCAT. I would like to reiterate, however, that achieving the benchmarks endorsed by the Council — including the voluntary return and resettlement of internally displaced persons, the demilitarization of refugee and internally displaced person camps, and improvement in the capacity of Chadian authorities to provide security with respect for human rights in eastern Chad — will require broad efforts involving many actors. In particular, we will continue to rely on the support of the Council to ensure that MINURCAT has the military assets and political support necessary to carry out its very important mandate.
I thank Mr. Mulet for his briefing. I now give the floor to the representative of the Czech Republic.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The candidate countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia; as well as the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this statement.
Let me begin by expressing our appreciation for having been invited to participate in today’s meeting on behalf of the European Union. I would like to thank Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his briefing.
The European Union-led military force (EUFOR) in Chad and the Central African Republic was a success story and proof of exemplary cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the United Nations, from the launching of the operation to its successful handover on 15 March 2009. The European Union provided a bridging military arrangement in the region, pending the deployment of a United Nations force, for a period of one year.
It is my honour to briefly introduce the report of the European Union requested under Security Council resolution 1778 (2007) of 25 September 2007. This is the second of the two reports on the operations and on the fulfilment of the EUFOR mandate requested by the Security Council, and covers the final six-month period from its full operating capability on 15 September 2008 to the mandate handover to the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) on 15 March 2009. As Council members will remember, the first report was delivered by Secretary-General/High Representative Javier Solana on 24 September 2008.
Throughout its mandate, EUFOR made a tangible contribution towards protecting civilians in danger and, in particular, refugees and displaced persons who have been profoundly affected by the crisis in the region. During the reporting period, it conducted over 2300 short-range patrols in the areas of the main internally displaced persons sites and refugee camps, and over 260 long-range patrols in order to affirm its presence in other areas as well. EUFOR activities also included active engagement with humanitarian actors. The force integrated human rights issues and the protection of women and children in armed conflicts into its conduct of the operation, consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions.
Beyond its mandate, EUFOR provided medical care for the local population. It also facilitated the removal of unexploded ordnance devices, thus contributing to the safety of the local population, and extracted humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel from Ouandjia in the Central African Republic in November 2008. Throughout its mandate, EUFOR acted in an impartial, neutral and independent manner and was recognized as such by all actors.
EUFOR’s engagement with MINURCAT was highly significant from the beginning of the operation and was further intensified as the handover approached. EUFOR assisted MINURCAT with facilitation and the development of capabilities to train and deploy the United Nations-trained Chadian Détachement intégré de sécurité officers. EUFOR established infrastructure, including six spacious and fully fledged military compounds in theatre, that were transferred to Chad and onwards to MINURCAT at the end of its mandate, thus setting the ground for the deployment of the United Nations follow-on force.
EUFOR, EU members and other EUFOR troop-contributing countries contributed in many other ways to the transfer of authority to MINURCAT that took place on 15 March 2009, including through early planning, support to MINURCAT and the re-hatting of an important part of the EUFOR contingents, which made up most of MINURCAT’s strength at the date of the transfer of authority.
The European Union welcomes the holding of the inclusive political dialogue in the Central African Republic and stresses the need to keep this new momentum. The EU is concerned about the recent spate of violence in the North of the country. All groups concerned must refrain from the use of violence. In Chad, where the fragile situation also contributed to slowing down progress on the overall political agenda, the EU continues to actively encourage the political process in the framework of the 13 August 2007 agreement in the context of preparations for the legislative elections.
The EU also accords great importance to the amelioration of relations between the Sudan and Chad in order to reduce tensions in the region and to contribute to a solution to the conflicts. In that regard, we hope that the next meeting of the Dakar Contact Group will take place shortly. The EU is concerned that the expulsion of a number of humanitarian organizations from Darfur and the subsequent reduced capacity to deliver humanitarian aid could raise the prospect of a large number of new refugees crossing the border into Chad.
The European Union would like to welcome the close cooperation with the United Nations at the Secretariat and field levels throughout the mandate of the European operation. In order to preserve the positive outcomes of EUFOR, the European Union would like to encourage the Secretariat and new troop-contributing countries to sustain their efforts towards a quick achievement of MINURCAT’s full operational capability.
I would like to assure the Council that the European Union will remain active at the political and diplomatic level in Chad and in the Central African Republic. Although EUFOR’s mandate has formally ended, the European Union will remain an active player in the region. Approximately 2,000 of the soldiers who participated in the European operation now serve under the MINURCAT banner, further underlining European support to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
First, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you, Sir, on your accession to the presidency of the Council for the month of April. Allow me also to greet the Assistant Secretary-General and to stress the great interest with which the Government of Chad heard his briefing. It is also my pleasure to welcome the statement of the Czech Republic presidency of the European Union and to express yet again the gratitude of my country to the European Union, which has responded to our expectations and those of the humanitarian community by protecting, in the best possible manner, the people affected by the insecurity in the eastern part of our country. On 15 March, the authority of European Union-led (EUFOR) military force in Chad and the Central African Republic was transferred to the United Nations, to the satisfaction of all. We are pleased to note the acknowledgement by the Secretary-General in his report (S/2009/199) of the cooperation of the Chadian Government, which allowed the transfer of authority to take place in the best possible conditions. We reiterate our willingness to pursue that cooperation with the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) so that it may effectively accomplish its mandate in the East of our country.
Turning to the report of the Secretary-General, my Government has instructed me to make some observations.
We wish to reassure the Secretary-General of Chad’s unwavering will to resolve its internal problems. That is why we cannot understand why it is stressed in paragraph 62 of the report that implementation of the political agreement of 13 August 2007 has reached an impasse. Unfortunately, some have been quick to bring up only that point of the report in order to dramatize the political situation in Chad. There have been difficulties, to be sure, but they have already been overcome thanks to the mediation of partners. A compromise was found between the parties on a parliamentary amendment of the statute of the National Independent Electoral Commission to ensure that its independence could not be contested. It must be recalled that the Commission’s membership is based on parity — 15 members of the majority and 15 of the opposition, while its presiding officer must be appointed by consensus among all parties. All provisions have been made for the population census to begin on 20 May 2009 with a view to organizing free and transparent elections.
As for national reconciliation with the so-called political and military elements, the Government is doing its best to that end. Now that the implementation of the political agreement on the national issue to which I have just referred is on the right track, it is for those whom the report mistakenly refers to as armed opposition to renounce the use of force and to return to the country in compliance with the Sirte agreement of 25 October 2007, instead of rejecting it on the pretext of its supposed obsolescence. Those so-called opposition groups would thus contribute to consolidating the rule of democratic law, to which we expect them to display genuine commitment by adhering to the political agreement of 13 August 2007. Perhaps, however, we should not dream too much, since we know that they are not free to choose that route, which goes against the Machiavellian schemes of their patron. That is why we call them mercenaries paid by our neighbour, and not “opposition”.
We are cheered by the reference in paragraph 13 of the report to the fact that they have “continued to consolidate in West Darfur near El Geneina”, in the Sudan. That is why we have taken the military steps necessary to respond to any eventuality. We cannot be blamed for defending ourselves. However, not to draw undue attention to the situation, contrary to what the report says, the Chadian Minister for External Relations, Moussa Faki, at a meeting informed some diplomats of that, but individually and not all. I also alerted the Secretary-General, who sent his assistant responsible for peacekeeping operations to meet me.
We would also like to reassure the Secretary-General and the Security Council that taking measures to defend ourselves militarily does not obviate our determination to normalize our relations with our neighbour, the Sudan, with which we have historic, multifaceted and unavoidable neighbourly relations. That is why we reiterate our commitment to respecting the provisions of all peace agreements — from Tripoli to Dakar and Riyadh — that link us to those brother countries. We are ready, if it asks, to help the Sudan settle the Darfur crisis as we have in the past, before it betrays us by arming Chadians against its own rebellion and then against the legitimate institutions of the country. We hope that the Chadian-Sudanese peace talks, to be held soon in Doha, Qatar, will open the way for a true normalization of our relations.
Allow me also to refer to some specific points of the report.
With regard to the document establishing MINURCAT II, we cannot accept a document prepared in advance, a sort of ready-to-wear item that we are asked to take or leave. For our part, we propose that negotiations take place in N’Djamena between the competent authorities and the Secretariat to reach a legal and administrative agreement that takes into account the sovereignty and concerns of Chad, without of course losing sight of the model status-of-forces agreement annexed to the report of the Secretary-General contained in document A/45/594.
Furthermore, the Chadian authorities deplore the fact that they did not know about the 15 patrols and military escorts that the report mentions in paragraph 28, since the MINURCAT liaison officer never mentioned such patrols during meetings of liaison officers, as the EUFOR liaison officer did in the past.
With regard to paragraph 34 of the report on the question of installing a VHF radio communications system, we do not understand the delay, since on 5 February 2009 we were promised that the communications system would be installed by the end of February. Since the communications system is still not operational, the patrol and escort missions of the Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS) elements are handicapped because they are cut off from their base. Still with regard to the DIS, it should be noted that there are serious logistics difficulties, as paragraph 34 of the report stresses. It is particularly under-equipped in vehicles, although we had placed great hope in logistics financing from the Trust Fund. It therefore seems to us untimely to suggest, as in paragraph 58 of the report, the transitioning of DIS from a donor-supported initiative to one financed by the Government of Chad. Is my Government not already making sufficient financial efforts ensuring the security of the border?
Moreover, unlike the indications of paragraph 49 of the report, the Chadian authorities are completely unaware of the onset of construction work for two new parking spaces at the airport of Abéché and the international airport in N’Djamena, which at present are completely overtaken by the military activities of the Chadian national army, the United Nations, and even Opération Épervier. It is absolutely necessary that the parking spaces at the airport of Abéché and the international airport in N’Djamena be built.
Finally, in general, there is a real need for consultation and close cooperation between MINURCAT and the Chadian authorities responsible for implementing the issues covered by the report in its sections IV B on justice and prisons, IV C on human rights, IV D on civil affairs and IV E on gender. The success of the Mission and the sovereignty of Chad depend on that.
All our observations have been made in a constructive spirit so that MINURCAT can deploy in eastern Chad taking into account the realities of the country. In other words, my country once again reiterates before the Security Council its willingness to cooperate fully and on a sound footing with the United Nations for the fulfilment of its noble mission to maintain peace and security in the region in general and in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic in particular.
Let me begin by thanking Mr. Edmond Mulet for his briefing and for his introduction of the report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/199), which describes developments in the region, both in Chad and in the Central African Republic. My gratitude goes to the troops of the European Union-led military force (EUFOR) in Chad and the Central African Republic for their contribution to easing the tension in the subregion between certain rebel groups and the civilian population.
I wish to thank Mr. Mulet also for having sent a very strong signal to the Security Council: that the lack of military equipment now be taken seriously and that a solution be found quickly. In my view, if we genuinely wish to see stability in the political and security spheres, it is only proper that the Security Council should consider the matter, and should in particular take into account the human aspect, with civilians caught between rebel forces and loyalist forces defending the territory.
I believe that today’s briefing and the report of the Secretary-General call on us all to find a concrete solution.
There are no further speakers on my list. In accordance with the understanding reached in the Council’s prior consultations, I should now like to invite Council members to informal consultations to continue our discussion of the subject.