Drilling company gets Swedish protection

During Sunday the Swedish unit in Chad began its first escort mission under real conditions in the operational area. Over a period of about fifteen days, using armoured all-terrain vehicles, Swedish soldiers will escort and protect a team from a civilian company engaged in drilling water bore holes.“It is good that we are now getting down to business in the actual operational area,” says deputy company commander Fredrik Herlitz.

Photo: Mats Laggar

For a little over two weeks a Chadian drilling company will be sinking bore holes in a search for water in an area some 220 miles from the provincial capital Abéché. The area has for a long time been ravaged by bands of armed criminals.

Among other things, there have in recent times been a number of attacks on humanitarian aid organisations during which vehicles and cash have been stolen. In the area, which is located on the border between two clans, there have also been incidents involving the murder of officials.
“That is why protecting those who are drilling for water is necessary and so vitally important. We will escort and protect the drilling team until they find water,” says Herlitz.

The mission to drill for water must be carried out with great care. That is why the mission is expected to last for a good two weeks.
“It is difficult to find water in a desert. The drilling team must also always drill in locations where they know that their actions will not have an impact on the neighbouring areas. There is a potential risk that a new bore hole can cause an established well in a nearby village to dry up. That must not happen,” says Captain Dennis Jedsmo.

Back in Camp Star, parts of the Swedish-Finnish infantry company remain to carry out support functions. This has meant that the Swedish contingent has, in a short space of time, had to set up three accommodation camps in Chad.
“This is just the beginning. We will be carrying out many more missions in the future. We all feel pleased that we have at last got down to work in earnest to fulfil the mandate that the UN has given us,” says Fredrik Herlitz.