Irish Troops placed on alert
One day after 180 Irish troops arrived at Goz Beida in Eastern Chad, the United Nations put the town on high alert and severely restricted humanitarian movements having received reports that an armed group from Sudan was due to arrive imminently. The Sudanese-backed Chadian rebels aim to take control of Chad by attacking the capital, and very nearly succeeded earlier in 2008. Goz Beida was under constant nighttime aircraft surveillance the week that the Irish troops arrived.
The Sudanese border is 85km from Goz Beida, but the poor roads make travel difficult. There is speculation that the rebels will act now, before the rainy season makes land travel impossible. Irish Ranger Troops recently came into contact with a group of 200 Chadian rebels while patrolling near the Sudanese border, but the incident passed off peacefully with both sides conversing through interpreters.
EUFOR's mandate is to protect refugees, internally displaced persons and humanitarian workers, and is seen more as a deterrent to violence. In the past, the rebels have tried to kept the support of Chadians, as they want a sympathetic populace should they win control of the country from what they say is a corrupt government. Nonetheless, their presence in Goz Beida could potentially see EUFOR step out of its deterrence role and into confrontation.