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UN Secretary-General to Press for Troops to Protect Refugees in Chad

Before meeting Chadian President Idriss Deby, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told journalists he would discuss a proposal to deploy thousands of European Union troops and U.N. police officers to help protect some 400,000 Sudanese refugees and Chadian internally displaced people. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA, the secretary general says he will discuss the Darfur crisis with government officials and humanitarian workers.

U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon calls Chad one of the important visionary players in addressing the situation in Darfur. Ban, who has just completed a four-day visit to Sudan, says he plans to continue to push his peace agenda for Darfur and will specifically address the plight of more than 240,000 refugees and another 180,000 internally displaced people.

He says the President of Chad previously rejected an offer of 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers. But, has accepted an initiative by the French government to send several thousand soldiers from the European Union to help protect the refugees and IDPs.

The head of U.N. peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, says the camps themselves have not been attacked, but there is a lot of banditry, car-jacking and violence against civilians in East Chad.

"The EU mission is a military mission," he said. "The main purpose of the EU force would be to ensure that the area's security, and obviously to protect civilians in imminent danger. And, the planning of the EU is ongoing."

The EU reportedly is considering sending about 3,000 troops to Chad. But, that remains to be confirmed.

Guehenno says the United Nations will play a complementary role to that of the EU. He says the U.N. will send up to 300 international police to train 850 Chadian police to protect the refugee camps and IDP sites.

"The situation of concentration of great numbers of people, crowds that can turn violent, lots of weapons in camps," he said. "Military units are not ideal to control the security in a camp. You need police. But, you need police that has the capacity to do effective crowd control."

Chad has been badly affected by a spillover of the Darfur conflict. Chad and Sudan share a 900-kilometer border, which is very porous. Guehenno says it is not easy to patrol that area. He says Chad, Sudan and Libya have agreed to monitor the border they share. He says in any peacekeeping situation, it is always nice to have the neighbors on board.