Chad: An Unnatural State of Affairs


June 23, 2007: There are now a dozen refugee camps in eastern Chad, holding nearly 400,000 people (30 percent from Chad, the rest from Darfur.) There are only 235 Chadian police providing security, meaning there is no security at all. Various Chad and Darfur irregulars and bandits raid the camps at will. A lot of the violence is from locals, who find themselves competing with large numbers of refugees for scarce resources, like wood for cooking, or water. The Chadian army is in the east, but its main concern are rebel groups that might head for the interior, the capital and an attempt to overthrow the government. The refugees are someone else's problem. The trouble is that "someone else" doesn't have any soldiers.

June 22, 2007: Libya has coerced Chadian leaders into attending peace talks in Libya. But Chad rebels want part of the oil money and more say in national level decision making, and the Chad leadership doesn't want to give up that much. Right now, the oil money is paying off enough tribes and warlords to keep the current crew in power. But it's a delicate balance, and balance is not a natural state of affairs in Chad.

June 17, 2007: Unable to get Chad to agree to an overland truck route guarded by French peacekeepers, France has begun airlifting food to southeastern Chad, where the need is greatest. About a hundred troops are guarding the aircraft landing areas.

May 30, 2007: Thousands of government employees have been on strike for a month now. Hospitals and schools are closed. Salaries are less that they were twenty years ago because of currency devaluations in the 1990s, and the pay isn't enough to live on. People know the new oil income is being stolen by government officials, or used to pay for the war with the rebels. The government has its priorities, and is sticking to them.

May 29, 2007: Chad has refused to allow UN peacekeepers on its border with Darfur, because Sudan has threatened undeclared war if that happens.

May 26, 2007: UN food aid has been suspended in the eastern Chad town of Iribia, after aid workers were attacked. That food operation supplies 56,000 Darfur refugees in three camps. Bandits and rebel groups rob and intimidate aid workers, in order to get food and other supplies for themselves.


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