Chad: Snookered By Sudan


September 3,2008:  Most of the peacekeeping along the Sudan border centers around the dozen UN refugee camps, holding a quarter million Sudanese who have fled the fled the fighting in Darfur. The Sudanese government considers these refugees as permanent residents of Chad, something the international community will not recognize (but can't do much about because of diplomatic support for Sudan from Russia, China and Arab nations in the UN). The current peace deal with Chad is supposed to make it more difficult for Darfur rebel groups to hide out in Chad, and the presence of European peacekeepers does make it more difficult for these rebels to survive by plundering the refugee camps.

But the Darfur rebels from Chad and Darfur still raid these camps for supplies, and teenage recruits. The UN calls them "child soldiers," but it's actually the ancient method of turning teenagers into warriors. It's become easier since a flood of Cold War surplus AK-47s hit the region in the 1990s.

The 3,700 troops of EUFOR (the European peacekeeping force) makes it more difficult for rebel groups and bandits to plunder the refugee operations. It had gotten so bad that even the compounds where of the UN administrators (250 UN personnel, 20 percent of them foreign) live have been raided. This is why EUFOR desperately need helicopters, but few of the fourteen nations providing troops can, or will, send aircraft to Chad. But EUFOR cannot change the basic situation. Sudan has gotten away with rewarding the pro-government Arab tribes in Darfur, by pushing many of the black African tribes into Chad, where Sudan expects them to stay permanently. The Arab tribes in Darfur have already taken over the abandoned villages and land.

August 28, 2008: On the Sudan border, a group of children found an unexploded shell and began playing with it. The shell exploded, killing one child and wounding five. So far this year, there have been 95 such casualties (17 dead, 78 wounded.)

August 25, 2008: Russia agreed to send an aviation company, with 200 troops and four Mi-8 helicopters, to Chad. The transport helicopters, which can carry over two dozen troops each, are badly needed. Russia already has a similar aviation company operating in neighboring Sudan.


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