Chadian-Sudanese tensions halting regional peace efforts: UN Chief

Continuing tensions between Chad and Sudan have stalled regional peace efforts, prolonging the humanitarian crisis in both nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report made public.
“The perpetuation of the hostility between Chad and the Sudan continues to frustrate solutions to the conflicts in Darfur and eastern Chad, exacerbating the plight of civilians in both regions,” Ban wrote, calling for a reinvigoration of “meaningful peace efforts.”
Agreements between Chad and Sudan reached in Doha in May and in Dakar last March have yet to be realized, he said.
But the Secretary-General underscored that the “long-term peace and stability of the region depends primarily on resolving the internal conflicts prevailing in both the Sudan and Chad.”
In this regard, he called the establishment of an independent electoral body to oversee elections by the Chadian Government and the opposition encouraging, but said that governance reforms and a comprehensive national reconciliation process are also essential.
The latest report on the work of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) noted that the mission is making “steady albeit limited progress” towards fulfilling its mandate.
MINURCAT is gradually being able to provide area-wide security, thanks to the construction of forward operating bases and the continuing deployment of blue helmets, Ban said.
“These efforts, complemented by well synchronized peace consolidation programmes of the humanitarian and development community, could contribute to the voluntary return of the refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their places of origin,” he wrote.
However, meeting MINURCAT’s withdrawal benchmarks including the sustainable return of refugees will require the Chadian Government’s sustained engagement. In particular, the report said, authorities will need to step up national capacity to protect civilians and resolve the causes of armed conflict in eastern Chad and in the sub-region, including fighting between rebels and Government forces in Chad and the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.
During the reporting period, covering the period since the end of July, the proliferation of arms, tribal disputes and border tensions continued to affect eastern Chad.
“While MINURCAT and relevant partners take measures to improve the situation at the local level, it is essential that the Government of Chad redouble its efforts to address sources of insecurity, including the root causes of inter-ethnic strife and the proliferation of weapons,” Ban said.
Meanwhile, in the Central African Republic (CAR), he reported that the Government has increased efforts to restore its authority in the country’s northeast and foster inter-community dialogue.
Inter-ethnic tensions and weak State institutions, however, are still areas of concern, the report to the Security Council stressed.
In September 2007, the Council approved the establishment of an UN-mandated, multidimensional presence, including European Union military forces, in Chad and CAR to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan.
On 15 March, UN peacekeepers took over the military and security responsibilities of EU forces.

Pic: UN Secretary General- Ban ki-Moon