Chad: After The Gold Rush


June 22, 2009: Efforts by Libya, and other Arab nations, to work out a peace deal between Chad and Sudan continue to fail. The basic problem remains that the two nations are not willing to stop hosting each others rebel groups. The main reason for this is tribal ties. The Darfur (Sudan) rebels are from tribes with clans on both sides of the border. Same thing with the Chad rebels.

In the last month, at least six children in eastern Chad have been killed by playing with UXO (unexploded ordnance, often RPG shells that did not go off the first time they were used.) Some 80 percent of the UXO deaths are children, as the adults recognize how dangerous this stuff is. The kids, on the other hand, like to explore recent battlefields looking for something interesting to play with.

Years of violence in eastern Chad have created a situation where more people are living in refugee camps (nearly half a million, including 250,000 Sudanese, 74,000 Central African Republic and 169,000 Chadians) than outside (about 150,000 Chadians live along the Sudanese border). It's a dry, dusty place, and the Western aid groups (mostly NGOs, or non-governmental organizations) have transformed the local economy with their free food, medical care and cash (to pay for local purchases, like supplies and security guards.) All that new wealth has attracted bandits, hustlers and entrepreneurs. It's a Gold Rush atmosphere, with the UN and other NGOs supplying the gold. The main sources of all this tumult are over two decade of civil war in Chad (which never attracted a lot of attention from the NGO community) and the more recent Sudanese government war on its own people in Darfur (western Sudan), which created millions of refugees, and caused so many of them to flee into Chad.

June 13, 2009: The UN convinced the government to turn over 85 teenage rebel gunmen who had been captured, over a month ago, during battles with invading rebels. Although a few of the 85 were 14 years old, most were two or three years older, and at the age that, for thousands of years, young men in the region went off to war. But the UN, and many Western countries, have decided that letting anyone younger than 18 join the military is an abomination and crime against humanity. When the UN gets these underage fighters, they put them through some kind of rehab  and then turn them loose.

June 4, 2009: Sudanese warplanes are crossing the border to bomb suspected JEM rebels bases inside Chad. JEM says the Sudanese aircraft did not touch them.

June 3, 2009:  In the east, the government began issuing ID cards to 110,000 adult Sudanese refugees living in UN administered camps. The ID cards make it easier to deal with crime, and Darfur rebels living in the refugee camps (often with family members, who have ID cards.)

May 28, 2009: Just across the border in Sudan, army troops drove JEM rebels out of the town of Kornoy (which they had controlled for ten days). The rebels fled back to their bases in Chad, which is a constant source of friction between the two countries. The Kornoy fighting left about sixty dead.




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