Cabinet to decide on Chad mission
A Government decision on whether to send up to 400 Irish troops to Chad is expected to be made on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said today.
Speaking after his four-day trip to Sudan and Chad, Mr Ahern said the deployment of the United
Nations (UN) sanctioned troops would also have to be approved by the Dail.
The Minister met with the leaders of both governments during the short visit and he said they fully understood that Ireland comes with no strategic interests in Africa.
"Over the last four days I have met with the leaders of the Chad and Sudanese Governments and outlined to them the great record of our soldiers serving overseas, most recently in Kosovo, Lebanon, East Timor and Liberia," he told RTÉ radio.
"They fully understand that as a nation we come with no strategic interests with regard to Africa.
"They also welcome the ongoing humanitarian support successive Irish Governments and citizens have shown in alleviating poverty and famine in the region."
If given government and Dá il approval, Irish troops will form part of a European Union (EU) military operation which will shortly be deployed to eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic.
They will be under the operational command of Co Limerick native Lt General Pat Nash. The EU mission is in support of a UN multi-dimensional presence, as authorised by UN Security Council Resolution 1778.
During his tour Mr Ahern met with aid workers and local people at a site facilitating 8,000 displaced Chadians near the border with Sudan.
He said while the local people were anxious to return to their villages, that would not be possible until the situation on the ground stabilised. "Witnessing at first hand the situation in these camps is very valuable," Mr Ahern continued. "Tomorrow I will be able to brief my fellow Foreign Ministers in Brussels about the plight of these people.
"The camps, while by no means ideal, do offer a safe environment for these displaced people, together with food, health and education facilities."
The Minister added the crisis in Chad was directly linked to the ongoing tragedy in Darfur, Sudan.