Irish troops returning from Chad
Published 19/05/2010 | 17:31
The final batch of Irish peacekeeping troops serving in war-torn Chad are making the long journey home.
The 186 soldiers are expected to touch down at Dublin Airport on Thursday after spending four months in the troubled African state.
For the last two years members of the Defence Forces have protected more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) occupying refugee camps along the border with Darfur.
The Acting Chief of Staff of The Defence Forces Major General, Dave Ashe, will welcome home the final chalk of troops who travelled by air from the Irish base in Goz Beida to the Chadian capital of N'Djamena, where they boarded a chartered flight to Dublin.
However it will take until the end of July for the army's specialist equipment to reach home soil.
The Defence Forces said a major logistics operation has been underway since the decision was taken to withdraw the main body of Irish troops from the MINURCAT mission.
Captain Pat O'Connor, of the Defence Forces, said the majority of Irish-owned assets are already centralised in N'Djamena, after travelling some 800km across the desert from Goz Beida.
The next phase of the operation will involve an air, road and rail move to get the Irish-owned assets the 1,500km from N'Djamena to the Cameroonian capital of Douala.
From there the equipment will be shipped a further 9,000km to Dublin.
Chad, which is approximately twice the size of France, has little or no infrastructure with Goz Beida almost 2,000km from the nearest seaport in Cameroon and 800km from the nearest international airport in N'Djamena.