Field Report from Abeche – Monday June 16 11:30am
The rebels have left Goz Beida and UNHCR has resumed flights to the area. All 230 international and national staff members of NGOs stationed in Goz Beida spent last night safely at the EUFOR compound. These same troops, mostly Irish and Danish, are also responsible for protecting the almost 16,000 Darfur refugees who fled their country because targeted ethnic violence and the thousands of IDPs in the surrounding area.
Some NGO compounds were looted as well as one UNHCR warehouse set ablaze, but it is not clear by whom. Several cars and other items of interest, such as satellite phones, were also stolen.
By yesterday morning the rebels had left the town and are said to be making their way to N’Djamena, only passing through towns with no intention of holding them. The government has kept cell phone communication down in the few places in the East where it reaches, mostly as a precaution to prevent the rebel groups from communicating.
We have not heard word from Bouba and our driver, but believe them to be safe. We hope to see him today or tomorrow, and with the tent panels and other luggage that we had sent to Goz Beida ahead of us. In the end, these panels will have a longer story than expected, with this being the third time their location is unknown! But, as one friend pointed out to us, rented cars are not a target since more than likely they are owned by one relative or another of someone involved in the robbery.
For now the i-ACT team is safe in Abeche. UNHCR has resumed normal flights to all camps, except for N’Djamena. Where we wait for word on whether the rebels will take their last chance to overthrow President Idriss Deby before the heavy rains begin. Until then, we rest easy in the fitness center.