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Chad: Visit to Iriba and Guereda for consultations in the region

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"You are doing a fantastic job with the limited means that you have, and I want you to know that we are all proud of you." These are words from General Oky Mahamat Yaya Dagache, the Special Representative of the President of the Republic and Head of CONAFIT, when he met with elements of the Détachement intégré de Sécurité (DIS) in Iriba and Guereda on 3 September 2009. General Dagache and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Victor Angelo, were on a joint mission for consultations in the region.

Humanitarian workers in the area are also pleased with the performance of the DIS because they can now move to and fro without fear thanks to the escorts provided by the DIS with the support of UNPOL and MINURCAT's Force.

The DIS is a rapid-response team composed of 850 elements, and tasked with protecting refugees and displaced persons within a radius of 10 km around the camps. The DIS has been stretched to the limit given the challenges and difficulties it is facing every day in order to fulfill its mandate. Paramount among these difficulties are the lack of logistical support, especially vehicles suited for the rough terrain, and the need for adequate weapons to fight organized crime rampant in much of eastern Chad.

"God willing, I will do everything in my capacity, with the help of MINURCAT and the rest of our partners, to give you the means to do your work with more professionalism. But, you must have patience and courage, for, you chose this job with full knowledge of the risks and difficulties involved," General Dagache told the DIS officers.

Iriba is at 66 km from the border with Sudan, and has three refugee camps, Iridimi, Touloum, and Amnaback, accounting for a total population of 62,826. Guereda, on the other hand, is located at about the same distance as Iriba from the Sudanese border, and has two camps, Mile and Kounoungou, with a total refugee population of 37,156. Currently, 122 DIS agents are operational in Iriba, against 101 elements in Guereda.