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EU Prepares Hand-Over in Chad


Some 3,200 European Union troops are wrapping up a year-long mission in Chad this week and will hand over their duties to the United Nations. Half the EU force is staying behind to help keep the refugee camps safe for UN aid workers, but they will re-hat and wear the blue UN helmets.

The UN peacekeeping mission will inherit a significantly improved security situation, but an ongoing humanitarian crisis as well -- with several hundred thousand refugees and displaced people requiring care.

After a year in Chad, EU troops leave behind the military bases and equipment essential for keeping the peace.

Now, it will be up to the UN peacekeeping mission to focus on humanitarian development and civilian programs, which will include training and deploying Chadian judges and police.

Victor Angelo is the UN Secretary General's representative in Chad. "We have been able to arrest in the last few months, 81 high-caliber rebels and we have taken into account that in the 24 months before that, no-one had been arrested in eastern Chad, in cases related to attacks against humanitarians," he said.

But the biggest problem is getting Darfuri rebels who are inside the camps to put down their arms. Security inside the camps is provided by a Chadian police force known as the Integrated Security Detachment, or DIS. But the effort sometimes falls short, says Daniel Durandignassala, DIS deputy police chief.

"Very often it's a question making the refugees themselves inside the camp understand, and also the rebels who come to the camp to visit their relatives," Durandignassala said. "We try and make contact with the rebels' chief and talk with him - 'look, over there, the rebels are arriving now, in their vehicles- that's the JEM.'"

EU officials say the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, is known to be recruiting and obtaining fresh supplies in Chadian refugee camps like Oure Cassoni, just 7 kilometers from the Sudanese border.

Polish soldiers patrolling the area say it is often impossible to distinguish among the many different rebels operating here because they lack any badge or uniform.

The Polish contingent makes routine visits to the DIS outposts, which senior officers say are essential for gathering intelligence. On this day there were reports of a Sudanese military aircraft crossing into Chadian airspace overnight.

If the situation in Darfur deteriorates further, multinational battalion Commander Maciej Siudak says he fears the Chadian police may not be prepared. "They [the DIS] do not fulfill these missions in a professional way, that is why I suggested that we are ready," Commander Siudak said. "We are open to conduct extra training for the DIS."

This school in the border village of Bahai was built with the help of Polish troops. But some Chadian locals say it is the EU that needs to do more to protect people.

"It's not enough, it's not enough," School teacher, Soumaine Hassan said. "They should close the border, and supervise it for us, and alert us to the dangers the local population must avoid."

EU troops say they have shored up security around the camps they were sent here to protect.

But they say root problems such as banditry and the lack of respect for the rule of law will now be left to the Chadian government and the United Nations to handle.

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