CAR + 2 more

Senior UN official assesses status of stabilization force during visit to Chad

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The United Nations official overseeing support for the world body's various peace operations is in Chad to assess the deployment of the force tasked with bringing stability to the eastern part of that strife-torn nation and to the northeast of the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).

Chad and CAR have been beset by widespread fighting and civilian displacement in recent years, owing to rebel activity and a spill-over from Sudan's Darfur conflict.

The UN Mission in CAR and Chad (MINURCAT), which includes a multi-dimensional UN presence and a European Union military force (EUFOR), was set up by the Security Council in September 2007 in response to the dire humanitarian situation in the two countries.

During her four-day visit, which began yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, Susana Malcorra, will meet with national authorities, the ambassadors of the permanent member countries of the Security Council and heads of UN agencies in Chad.

Ms. Malcorra will also travel to eastern Chad - where there are some 315,000 refugees, mainly Sudanese escaping from the Darfur fighting, and 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) - to see MINURCAT facilities and meet with EUFOR command in Abeché, Farchana and Goz-Beida.

Yesterday UN relief officials warned that insecurity and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the area around Dogdoré in eastern Chad threaten the lives of 26,000 IDPs.

Humanitarian operations have been suspended in the area since last month. Aid agencies had requested the Government to provide security to their staff and assets, and asked MINURCAT to reinforce its presence in those areas closest to Chad's eastern border with Sudan, including Dogdoré.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has proposed sending 6,000 troops to replace the 3,000-strong EUFOR, whose mandate is set to expire on 15 March. The Security Council is expected to make a decision on the size of that component by 15 December.

Ms. Malcorra, who took up her post in March, directs all support for the UN's 32 peace operations around the world, which comprise more than 100,000 military, police and civilian personnel.