The Swedish part of the EU's planned peace mission in Chad and the Central African Republic is now fully prepared. All that now remains is to be given the signal to deploy from the EU foreign ministers who are due to meet on 28 January.
EUFOR consists in total of 4.000 men with soldiers from a number of EU countries. The Swedish contingent numbers 200, mostly infantry soldiers. The Swedish company also includes a platoon of some 60 soldiers from Finland.
Since October last year the Swedish unit has been in training, mostly with the First Marine Regiment and the Life Guards. The unit has been recruited mainly from the already fully trained International Amphibious Force (IAS).
"We have trained for every conceivable type of situation. The training has also included medical support and studies of local diseases, climate, survival and wildlife", says Peder Ohlsson.
Large number of refugees
As a part of EUFOR, the unit will be working to improve security for refugees and aid organisations in eastern Chad and the northern parts of the CAR. In eastern Chad it is estimated that there are half a million refugees living in camps situated along the border with Sudan.
The huge crowds of refugees and displaced persons consist mainly of those fleeing from the strife and persecution that has been rife in the Darfur region of Sudan in recent years. In the EUFOR mission area there are also a large number of displaced persons from Chad and the CAR.
The precise grouping of TD01 in the mission area, which extends along eastern Chad and into the north-eastern part of the CAR, has yet to be settled. This will be decided by the EUFOR leadership when the details of the operation are finalised.
"Quite simply, our aim is to ensure that the refugees have a more secure existence and that they are able in the future to return to their home townships and villages. We shall also try to create a more secure environment for the aid organisations working in the area. The current level of security is not satisfactory for reasons that include purely criminal activity as well as the feuding between rival armed groups. Our mission will be to help stabilise the situation and improve security for everyone in the area", says Peder Olsson.
The EUFOR Mission is based on UN Security Council Resolution 1778 of 25 September 2007. The UN encouraged the member countries of the EU to contribute a peace force. The local governments in Chad and the CAR are backing the establishment of this force. On 21 November 2007 the Swedish parliament took the decision to contribute soldiers to the EUFOR operation.
Apart from soldiers from Sweden and Finland, EUFOR will also include men and women from Ireland, France, Poland and Italy. Sweden, together with France, is the first country to declare its contingent ready for action.