New York- US (PANA) -- London-based Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday called on the Chadian government to allow UN peacekeepers to continue protecting 250,0 0 0 refugees from Darfur and 170,000 internally-displaced people (IDPs) in the eas t of the country.
The organisation also called on the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) w h en it expires on 15 March 2010.
In a statement, made available to the Pan African News Agency (PANA) in New York , US, the AI also appealed to the Chadian government to ``immediately'' withdraw its demand requesting the termination of the mandate.
''Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians would be exposed to increased at tacks by Chadian armed opposition groups, irregular militias, criminal gangs and members of the Chadian security forces, if MINURCAT were to leave,'' it stated.
PANA reports that the statement was signed by Tawanda Hondora, Africa Deputy Dir ector at Amnesty International.
It noted that, ``attacks on humanitarian workers and civilians, which reached al arming levels in the last months of 2009, have begun to decrease as MINURCAT sol d iers have been able to carry out patrols in sensitive areas they were previously unable to patrol''.
``The Chadian government has the responsibility and duty to protect its own popu lation and other persons living on its territory but for many years it has shown itself incapable and unwilling to do so with respect to Eastern Chad,'' it said.
The organisation also said that, ``human rights violations, including rape and r ecruitment of child soldiers, are carried out with almost total impunity in eastern Chad, by members of Chadian and Sudanese armed opposition gr oups, bandits and members of the Chadian security forces''.
It further expressed fears that humanitarian agencies that assist refugees, IDPs and the local population in eastern Chad would be forced to close some or all o f their programmes if MINURCAT were to pull out.
"This would leave hundreds of thousands without essential humanitarian assistanc e and facing increased security risks due to the absence of an international pre s ence,'' it added.
MINURCAT has been deployed to eastern Chad since March 2008 to protect and enabl e humanitarian assistance reach hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs that h ave sought shelter in the area.
However, deployment has been slow over the past two years but the force is now f or the first time deployed at around 70 per cent of the level set by the UN Secu r ity Council and has received technical support from various countries.
PANA recalls that on 8 February, during a trip to Sudan, Chadian President Idris s Dأ©by reaffirmed his governmentâ?s position that MINURCAT must leave Chad at t he expiration of its mandate.
The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1778 (2007) on 25 September, 2007, est ablishing both a military and policing component to MINURCAT.
The military force was deployed on 15 March, 2008.
In the first year, it was under the command of the European Union (EU) and was t ransferred to the UN on 15 March, 2009.