Chad: Refugee Central


April 5, 2009:  More problems in the southeast, where over 3,000 refugees a month are fleeing civil disorder in the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR). The growing bandit activity in CAR is now spilling over into Chad, where nearly 60,000 CAR refugees are living in five camps. Now that there's more unrest in this part of Chad, UN and European peacekeepers have more trouble spots they can't cover. While Chad and Sudan are officially at peace, and there are no major military operations along the border, there are still lots of bandits. And it's a big border, and any peacekeepers in Eastern Chad are but a few ink spots on a huge canvas (over 300,000 square kilometers) that is their eastern border region with Sudan and CAR. The 1,500 kilometer long frontier is mostly desert and brush, with the Darfur refugees in twelve major camps, and many more smaller, and often improvised ones.

The peacekeepers have to devote considerable resources to defending themselves, and their own bases. The local bandits know the terrain, and give the peacekeepers a wide berth. The UN is determined to get food and medical aid to the refugees, and the bandits are determined to steal as much of this aid as they can. Only the peacekeepers, and occasionally the Chadian security forces (who often go rogue and steal themselves), can put a dent in the theft. The UN has to pay an increasingly larger portion of the aid money to hire locals as security guards, or just give the money to local warlords to purchase "protection."

Meanwhile, several well armed and perpetually angry rebel groups are still up and about in Chad. There's a lot of anger in the country, with the ban on charcoal being a new source of unrest. There are plenty of others, many driven by the new oil wealth, and the way it is distributed (to the few, not the many). For the last few decades, civil war has been the normal state of affairs, and it seems likely to flare up again.




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