Greetings from the N’Djamena, Chad – the capital, and at the moment one of the many hotspots of instability in Chad. First things first, our team is safe. We get regular updates from the General Manager and the French have a regular presence on the grounds, including a few great views of the city from the roof.
Our friends in Eastern Chad, both UNHCR national and international staff members and the refugees of Darfur living in the camps, are in more danger than I, Gabriel, Josh or Jeremiah. The Guereda guesthouse we lived in while visiting Yakoub, Adam, Fatne, Asha, Mohamed, Saleh, Darsalam, and Aziza in Camp Kounoungo and Camp Mile have been evacuated. This means that the last of the food and other supplies they will receive until violence ceases has been dropped off and the staffers have said their goodbyes for now. Only days ago, we were unable to visit little Leila and were forced to return to Abeche early. This road was closed the following day.
The night before we flew out of Abeche, rebels were 35 kilometers outside of the city. These rebels are funded by Sudanese money. They are Chadian, not Sudanese, and not Janjaweed. Many of their generals are defacto Chad military officials. They skipped Abeche and have made their way to N’Djamena to take the Presidential palace and ask for power sharing in the government. Much how the rebels of Darfur asked 5 years ago for power themselves.
This leads me to the larger picture of Darfur. Five years ago, experts said if the international community did not put a stop to ethnic cleansing in Darfur, it would spread to the entire region, and destabilize both Chad and Central African Republic (CAR). And this is exactly was a happening: A triangle of Movement.
Guns. Money. Rebel Groups. And Refugees. With relative ease these move between the porous borders. Chad blames Sudan for funding rebel violence. Sudan blames Chad and both blame CAR for not controlling their Northeastern region most of which is highly underdeveloped and thick forest. UNHCR has reported new arrivals from CAR just in the last two days, and during a time when their staff is making decisions about temporarily evacuating.
The Internally Displaced Person’s (Chadians who have been displaced by violence and Darfuris who didn’t cross the border into Chad) and Refugees are the ones in the most danger during these times of instability. They are caught between two countries: their host nation and the home they left. They are caught in the middle of violence: rebels asking for power, corrupt local and national government soldiers and looters who see the instability as a window of gain.
Five years ago, this was predicted and now it’s the very excuse the world leaders use to NOT take action. The decision to delay the deployment of EUFOR peacekeepers is a perfect example of this. At a time when their presence would be most useful, they wait for Chad to become controllable enough to enter. World powers whine that the situation has become increasingly complicated and regional, which means it requires time and patience to unravel the tangle of the triangle. But this is just an excuse. And we cannot stand for it any longer.