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U.N. takes command of EU force in Chad

The scheduled hand-over comes amid fears of more rebel violence and refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan.

March 16, 2009|Associated Press

ABECHE, CHAD — The United Nations took over command from a European Union protection force in eastern Chad on Sunday, and there were growing fears of more rebel violence and the possible arrival of tens of thousands more refugees from Sudan's Darfur region.

The European Union formally handed over command to the U.N. mission in Chad and Central African Republic after a yearlong mandate expired.

The hand-over, which sees about 5,000 U.N.-commanded troops replace an EU force of close to 3,500, some of whom will remain, comes at a time of raised tension after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Bashir's government expelled 13 aid organizations from Darfur last week, hamstringing U.N. assistance and raising fears that tens of thousands of refugees could abandon camps and cross to Chad. About 250,000 Darfuris already live in camps in Chad.

The protection force is meant to secure humanitarian operations in eastern Chad and patrol part of the Central African Republic to the south.

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