EU Delays Deployment of Peacekeepers to Chad

Lisa Bryant

The European Union has announced it would delay a peacekeeping mission to Chad because of a new rebel offensive against N'Djamena's government. Meanwhile, Lisa Bryant reports from Paris the French government is dispatching troops to bolster its forces in the central African country.

French defense officials have told news agencies they are sending 150 forces from nearby Gabon to Chad, where the UFDD rebel group is reportedly moving in the direction of the Chadian capital of N'Djamena.

France already has 2,000 soldiers on the ground in Chad. French officials say the new contingent is being sent as a precautionary measure to protect French citizens there. The new forces will not take a combat role.

The announcement came as the European Union said it would delay this week's deployment of forces to Chad. The EUFOR force is tasked to protect refugees from the neighboring war-torn region of Darfur, in Sudan, as well as those displaced by separate conflicts in Chad and the Central African Republic, just across the border.

The EUFOR force commander, French general Jean-Philippe Ganascia, has predicted the delay in troop deployment would only be for a few days. He gave his assessment of the situation on the ground in Chad.

Ganascia told France-Info radio that so far French forces stationed in Chad have not clashed with the rebels. He said he would be surprised if that happened now. But he said he also didn't know the rebels. And he said the European peacekeeping force had the right to engage with the rebels - if necessary.

Meanwhile, the French government has not ruled out sending additional reinforcements to Chad, if necessary.


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