The European Union has handed over command of the peacekeeping mission in Chad to the United Nations.
United Nations forces took over command from European Union peacekeepers here Sunday to protect refugees and displaced people in Chad and the Central African Republic. The EU’s EUFOR troops swapped their berets for the UN peacekeeping ones in in the eastern Chadian town of Abeche in a symbolic handover ceremony attended by senior officials and diplomats, including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Some 5,200 peacekeepers from the UN’s MINURCAT mission are now charged with protecting refugees from Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region and people displaced by a rebel insurgency in Chad and northern Central African Republic. But roughly 2,000 members of the European force will remain for a few more months under the UN beret until African and Nepalese units arrive.
“This is clear proof of a new commitment to this part of the world,” said EUFOR’s Irish commander, General Patrick Nash, who said Europe’s engagement in the area would continue.
What’s interesting is not only Europe’s willingness to commit 2,000 troops to Africa at a time when they’re reluctant to do more in what is arguably a more pressing security situation in Afghanistan but that it’s the EU and not NATO that’s doing it.
James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.