Chad: Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble


March 2, 2008: There are now 50,000 Central African Republic (CAR) refugees in southern Chad. In the east, some of the over 300,000 refugees (most of them from Sudan) are being moved away from the border, to better protect them from the Sudanese Arab militias that drove the refugees out of Sudan in the first place, and Chadian rebels and bandits. The refugee camps, and the relief agency facilities (headquarters, living quarters and warehouses) remain a source of loot for all the irregular forces in the area. About 3,000 refugees a week are still coming across the Sudan border, to escape government and militia attacks on non-Arab villages.

In the capital, the government is getting international pressure to release opposition politicians who were arrested when rebels stormed into the capital last month. Some of those arrested were known to be close to the rebels, but many simply opposed president Deby. Meanwhile, the government is apparently using its victory over the RFC rebel attempt to grab the capital, to resume secret negotiations with other rebel groups. Chad is made up of dozens of tribal groups, most capable to producing armed rebels if conditions are right. The feeling that they are not getting a fair share of the new oil wealth is a new cause for people to feel slighted, and a reason to start gunning for president Deby. The parliament has extended the State of Emergency for another 15 days, to March 15th. This suspends many legal protections for citizens, making Chad more of a police state.

European peacekeepers are slowly arriving, with about 500 there now, and about 3,000 to arrive by the end of the month. Some of the peacekeepers are commandos, and recon missions are being carried out, along with the building of camps. That means, next month there could be clashes between European Union (EU) peacekeepers and various armed groups operating along the Sudanese border.




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