Numerous foreigners were evacuated from Chad at the weekend following violent clashes between government forces and rebel groups in the central African country. All Germans registered with the Embassy who wanted to leave N'Djaména were able to do so with French, American and UN assistance on Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday morning. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed the situation in Chad in a telephone conversation last night (3 February) with French Foreign Minister Kouchner. He thanked France on behalf of the German Government for coordinating and carrying out the evacuation of European nationals. After their conversation, the Minister issued the following statement today in Berlin (4 February):
"I am greatly relieved that the evacuation from N'Djaména at the weekend went smoothly. Our thanks goes to France, the USA and the United Nations.
I would like to express our special thanks to our French partners, under whose leadership German and European nationals were successfully evacuated from Chad. The German Government and the people concerned very much appreciate this example of direct European solidarity. I would also like to thank the staff of the Foreign Office Crisis Response Centre, the Embassies in N'Djaména, Libreville and Paris, who worked very hard to plan and organize the German nationals' departure from the country.
The task in Chad now is to find a political solution to the conflict. A viable ceasefire is the first step. I call on the Government and the rebels to lay down their arms and return to the path of dialogue."
Due to the escalating violence, most foreign nationals, including 50 Germans, left Chad at the weekend.