EU - Chad president in 'solemn call' for combined force
Idriss Deby issued a "solemn call" for a European peacekeeping force for Darfur refugees to deploy as soon as possible.
PARIS, February 8, 2008 - Chadian President Idriss Deby issued a "solemn
call" Thursday for a European peacekeeping force for Darfur refugees, put on
hold by recent unrest in his country, to deploy as soon as possible.
"I issue a solemn call to the European Union, and to the initiator of this
idea France, to ensure that this force comes to take up positions as soon as
possible to alleviate the burden we are currently bearing," he told French
radio station Europe 1.
"The international community must help the Darfuris who are threatened in
their very existence," Deby said.
Deby said Wednesday his forces had regained "total control" after a rebel
offensive on the capital Ndjamena that left at least 160 dead, according to
the Chadian Red Cross.
The unrest delayed the deployment of French-led EU troops in eastern Chad
and northeast Central African Republic.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin said Wednesday in Ndjamena -- in the
west of Chad -- that arrangements were in hand to send EU peacekeepers within
45 days to protect 450,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region and locally
Scheduled for January 28, the advance deployment of the 3,700-strong EUFOR
Chad-CAR force was suspended last week as the rebels launched their offensive
from west Sudan, attacking Ndjamena.
Deby told Europe 1 that the presence of EU troops near the Sudanese border
could have helped him fight off the rebel assault.
"It would have helped us if EUFOR had already been in place," he said. "It
would have been able to dismantle the (rebel) units that are at the border."
France has 1,450 troops plus Mirage jet fighters in Chad, and while France
says it provided no direct military back-up, Deby said it had provided him
with vital intelligence support in regaining control of the capital.