Refugees in camps in eastern Chad yesterday issued a statement rejecting the inauguration of President Al Bashir, and expressed concern about the withdrawal of United Nations forces in eastern Chad, a peacekeeping mission known as MINURCAT. The statement said that the peacekeepers protect them from attacks by armed militias, and they provide security and stability in the camps. A sheikh of one of the camps in eastern Chad asked the international community, the UN Security Council and peace-loving forces to reconsider the decision to withdraw the troops since they protect the widows and the elderly and children in the camps.
The UN forces were asked to leave on the same day that Chad and Sudan signed a treaty in N’Djamena to normalize relations. The government of Chad informed the UN Secretary-General on 15 January that MINURCAT should leave Chad by 15 March. Later, the Chadian government changed its position to allow the UN forces to remain somewhat longer. The UN Security Council voted on 25 May to extend the mandate until the end of this year. The Security Council decided to withdraw some of the UN troops in Chad beginning in mid July, reducing the mission’s military strength from 3.300 deployed troops to 1.900 troops alongside several hundred support personnel and police. The remaining UN forces are supposed to begin withdrawing by 15 October 2010. The government of Chad says that it assumes full responsibility for security of the refugees.