Minister Dermot Ahern Commences Visit to Sudan and Chad
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern TD today begins a four day visit to Chad and Sudan in advance of the deployment of Irish troops as part of a UN-mandated EU mission in the region.
The Minister will hold talks with the Sudanese Government in Khartoum tomorrow (Wednesday) where he will announce increased funding for the Darfur Peace Process. Ireland is to provide €500,000 to support the peace talks on the future of Darfur which are due to resume in Libya in early December.
Minister Ahern will on Thursday meet Chadian leaders in the capital, N’Djamena. He will then be briefed by UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs working on the ground.
On Friday he will then travel to eastern Chad to see at first hand refugee camps which will be protected by the EU force.
Minister Ahern said: “The current Darfur peace process being mediated by the UN and African Union is absolutely vital for the prospects of securing lasting peace and security in the region. Without a stable and peaceful environment the current humanitarian crisis will continue.”
“Ireland has consistently been to the forefront in urging increased international attention and support to help resolve the long running tragedy of Darfur. I intend to raise the need for all parties to the conflict to commit to an immediate cessation of hostilities, full participation in the current peace talks and support for successful deployment of UNAMID, when I meet with the Sudanese Foreign Minister and other representatives in Khartoum on 14 November.”
The Irish troops’ mission, which is subject to Government and Dáil approval, will be part of an EU military operation which will shortly be deployed to eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic under the operational command of Lt. General Pat Nash of the Defence Forces. The EU mission is in support of a UN multi-dimensional presence, as authorised by UN Security Council Resolution 1778.”
Minister Ahern said: “This is both a vital and challenging EU mission that will increase security for the hundreds of thousands of people in eastern Chad displaced by the regional crisis. I look forward to discussing this mission with the Chadian Government and opposition. I want to see the situation for myself and I will visit a number of displaced persons camps in eastern Chad. I am hopeful that this EU mission, in which Ireland will play an important role, will bring security and enable political progress to be made in that troubled region” added the Minister.
Note for Editors
The UN Trust Fund has been established in order to provide practical and logistic support for the peace talks between the Government of Sudan and the various rebel groups in Darfur which commenced in Sirte, Libya on 27 October, under the mediation of the UN Special Envoy, Jan Eliasson, and the African Union Special Envoy, Salim Salim. After an initial round of discussions, the talks are now scheduled to resume in early December. Efforts are currently underway to increase the number of rebel groups participating in the process. Ireland joins a large group of other contributors to the Trust Fund, including the UK, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands and the European Commission.
The EU military bridging operation in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic (known as EUFOR Chad/CAR) is being established in pursuance of UN Security Council Resolution 1778 of 25 September 2007 which authorised the EU to provide military support to a multi-dimensional mission to provide security and protection for refugees and facilitate humanitarian access in Chad and the Central African Republic. EUFOR Chad/CAR will comprise approximately 4,300 military personnel and will be under the operational command of General Patrick Nash of Ireland. Countries contributing personnel include France, Sweden, Poland and Finland. Deployment of the Force will begin next month with the bulk of personnel due to be deployed during January.
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