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Thu, 13 May 2010 10:32 - Updated Thu, 13 May 2010 10:27

UN council puts off decision on Chad peacekeepers

United Nations

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United Nations - The Security Council on Wednesday put off for two weeks a decision on the future of U.N. peacekeepers in poor and violence-ridden Chad, which wants the peacekeepers to leave.

The current mandate of the force, known by its French acronym MINURCAT, expires on Saturday. In a move known in U.N. jargon as a technical rollover, a brief council resolution extended the mandate until May 26, saying proposals for the force needed thorough consideration.

The main tasks of the mission are to protect civilians and secure supplies of food and other aid to refugees in the Northeast of the drought-hit central African country, a region known for lawlessness and banditry.

U.N. officials say there are about half a million refugees in the area, half of them from the turbulent Darfur region of neighboring Sudan and the rest from Chad and the Central African Republic. They say withdrawing MINURCAT too soon would leave the refugees vulnerable.

Chad's President Idriss Deby asked the Security Council earlier this year not to renew the mandate of the mission, saying it had not fully deployed and had failed to protect civilians or build promised infrastructure projects.