UN chief calls for peacekeepers in Chad as Darfur violence spreads

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The Independent Online

An international force is needed for Chad because the violence that has spread across the Sudanese border is jeopardising the "tenuous humanitarian lifeline" to tens of thousands of people, according to the head of the UN refugee agency.

Writing in The Independent as he prepares to hold talks in the Chadian capital, António Guterres says attacks on more than 70 villages in Chad since last month had forced aid workers of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to temporarily relocate non-essential staff in remote areas. "Currently, only skeleton crews are able to work in six of the 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad because of continuing insecurity," he writes.

"UNHCR supports calls for the international community to mobilise a multi-dimensional presence in Chad to help protect Chadian civilians and Darfur refugees, as well as the aid workers trying to help them."

Mr Guterres notes that the UN Security Council first called for the establishment of such a force last August, for Chad and for the Central African Republic, which has also been affected by the spiralling conflict between government-sponsored Arab militia and the black African population in Darfur. However, concrete proposals have not yet been developed by the UN.

"I sincerely hope the Security Council decides on the rapid deployment of the kind of presence we need... In today's world, we are seeing an increasing number of extremely complex security situations involving a combination of armed rebellion, inter-ethnic conflict, and general lawlessness and banditry.

"The traditional concept of peacekeeping needs reflection and re-evaluation," says Mr Guterres, who will visit the area where Arab raiders attacked villages near a UNHCR camp.

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