10 August - The United Nations has proposed strengthening the capacities of the Central African Republic (CAR) to enable it to effectively tackle security and humanitarian challenges when the world body's peacekeepers withdraw from the country at the end of this year.

The UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT) was set up by the Security Council in 2007 to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and neighbouring Sudan.

The Council voted in May to end the mission by 31 December, after the Chadian Government requested the move and said it would assume full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory.

“An urgent solution will have to be found during the next two months to fill the security vacuum following the departure of MINURCAT from the north-east of the Central African Republic,” Youssef Mahmoud, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative and head of the Mission, told the Council today.

Presenting the Secretary-General's latest report on MINURCAT, Mr. Mahmoud noted that the threat to civilians, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and humanitarian workers in north-eastern CAR remains real.

“The lack of sustained progress in combating security threats in north-eastern CAR is mainly the result of the weak presence of its armed forces and the lack of logistical and other means for its operations,” he added.

Mr. Ban said in his report that the overall security situation in north-eastern CAR continues to suffer from inter-ethnic conflict, banditry and cross-border criminal activity. He outlined two options on how to mitigate the impact of MINURCAT's departure in the area.

The first option provides for a UN peacekeeping force in north-eastern CAR which would deter insecurity in the area and provide security for humanitarian actors until the Government has developed adequate capacity.

The second option focuses on strengthening efforts to build State capacities for ensuring security and the rule of law, coupled with immediate measures to strengthen the capabilities of the national armed forces (FACA) in the north-east.

Based on his assessment of the situation and the position of the CAR Government, Mr. Ban believes the second option is the most appropriate course of action.

On Chad, Mr. Mahmoud noted that the Government has spared no effort to gradually assume its responsibility for the protection of civilians since the Council voted to end MINURCAT.

“When necessary, vigorous actions have been undertaken,” he stated, adding that the UN-trained Détachement intégré de sécurité (DIS) has made considerable progress alongside the other security forces in providing protection for humanitarian activities.

He said the sustainability of the DIS will be a “long and painstaking” process which will require the full attention of the Government and its partners.

In addition, he reported that the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad remained a concern. Some 70 international humanitarian organizations continued to provide aid to the 255,000 Sudanese refugees and 168,000 IDPs in the area, and 64,000 CAR refugees in south-eastern Chad.