I checked my email this morning to find this message from Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty Canada, currently in Abeche, Chad, and wanted to share it with you. It’s a powerful reminder of why we all need to speak up now to ensure peacekeepers aren’t forced out of eastern Chad.
We have begun our work on the ground in eastern Chad and in early days much of our focus is on the impending decision of the UN Security Council about the future of the critical UN mission here. Under pressure from the Chadian government, and with the conspicuous absence of the usual strong influence of Chad’s former colonial power, France, the Security Council is poised to agree to begin a pull out of UN troops from the east of the country, to be completed by mid-October. It could very well prove disastrous for human rights protection, development projects and overall security. And at this point in time it seems near irreversible.
My friend Celine Narmandji, a remarkably tenacious women’s human rights defender who I’ve worked with on missions here in the past, put it very well when we met for lunch right after my arrival in Chad. She said:
We were abandoned before. We’re going to be abandoned again. The good news is that in between, for a short while, the world did care about the situation in eastern Chad.
MINURCAT’s future still hangs in the balance. Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously decided to postpone making a decision on whether or not MINURCAT, the UN peacekeeping mission in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic, should be renewed.
Refugees in Mile refugee camp, eastern Chad. Copyright Amnesty International
All 15 members of the UNSC felt they needed more time to think about the recommendations put forward by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and to determine Chad’s capacity to protect civilians without the help of the peacekeeping mission.
We’ve been pushing for the UN Security Council to continue protecting civilians in the region by renewing MINURCAT’s mandate. At least 10,000 people worldwide have already taken action. There is still time to add your voice – take action now and ask Secretary Clinton to support MINURCAT’s renewal.
And don’t forget to ask Secretary Clinton to support MINURCAT’s renewal! We need you to take action today to make sure peacekeepers can stay in Chad and the Central Africa Republic. MINURCAT still has a chance.
UN peacekeepers that have been crucial in protecting civilians in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic (CAR) are being asked to leave once the mission’s mandate ends on May 15th. Without these peacekeepers, human rights abuses in the region will almost certainly increase, further endangering the lives of the refugees and internally displaced people living in camps.
Both the conflict in neighboring Darfur, Sudan, and Chad’s own internal conflict have created hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people, many of which now live in refugee camps in the eastern part of Chad, close to the border with Sudan.
Refugees in Mile refugee camp, eastern Chad
Despite recent improvements, security in these camps remains a major issue. Amongst other issues, violence against women and girls is common both within and outside of the camps, and acts of violence are carried with almost complete impunity. And the UN peacekeepers are the only ones who can provide protection for these people.
Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, has asked the UN peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym MINURCAT, to withdraw from Chad when the mission mandate’s comes to an end on May 15th. But it’s not too late. If the United States can take a leadership at the UN Security Council, MINURCAT has a chance. And so will the people living in eastern Chad.
It’s up to you to take action today to ask the US government to be a leader in ensuring MINURCAT’s renewal.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.