Norway pulling out of Chad

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The Labour Party-led Norwegian government is turning down repeated requests from the UN and even from many of its own party members to continue running a field hospital in Chad. Norway will withdraw its health care personnel at the hospital by May 15.

Norway has been running the field hospital in eastern Chad, not far from the troubled Darfur province in Sudan, since last year. The UN’s secretary general has personally asked Norway to extend its operation of the facility, but Defense Minister Grete Faremo said this week that the decision to withdraw was final.

“Norway lacks access to special competence,” she told newspaper Dagsavisen, adding that the Norwegian military can no longer guarantee the level of health care necessary. She said the decision also was based on concern for the safety of those who work there.

The withdrawal has been criticized by various members of the government’s dominant party, Labour, from coalition partner SV, foreign policy and peace research institutes PRIO and NUPI and opposition parties in the Norwegian Parliament. They don’t think the government should give priority to NATO over the UN.

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