It Just Keeps on Getting Worse: Violence Escalates in Chad

From the BBC, we learn that the situation in the African state of Chad is going downhill quickly. According to the Failed States Index compiled by the Fund For Peace, Chad was the 5th most failed state in 2007. Chad has been affected negatively by the ongoing conflict and genocide in the neighboring state of Sudan.

Thousands of people are fleeing the Chad capital, N’Djamena, after two days of fierce fighting between government and rebel forces in the city.

chad.jpgThe government says it has pushed the rebels out of the city but they say they withdrew to give civilians the chance to evacuate. Aid workers report that fighting is continuing outside the city, while dead bodies litter the streets.

The UN Security Council has urged member states to help the government. The BBC’s Laura Trevelyan at the UN in New York says this non-binding statement gives the go-ahead to France and other countries to help President Idriss Deby’s forces against the rebels.

Chad’s former colonial power France has a military base in Chad and has previously helped the government with logistics and intelligence. Thousands of people have been streaming across the Ngueli bridge, which separates Chad from Cameroon.

Local officials have told the UN refugee agency that thousands were also crossing at the border town of Kousseri. “We’re expecting a lot more people coming,” said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond. He also said he was extremely concerned for the 240,000 Darfur refugees in Chad.

The International Crisis Group released a report back in 2006 detailing the situation in Chad and fearing a return to war in that country. You can view the executive summary here, where there is a link to the full report (the full report is only in French, however). Here is a snippet from that summary:

The April 2006 rebel offensive brought Chad to the brink of all-out civil war. The victory that President Idriss Déby ultimately achieved in pushing the United Front for Democracy and Change (FUCD) back from the gates of the capital, N’Djamena, to its Darfur sanctuary settled nothing on the military front and underscored the political fragility of the regime. The army’s success was primarily due to French logistical and intelligence support, while the setback paradoxically may encourage the armed opposition groups to forge closer links in order to pursue a war of attrition in the north, the east and along the border with the Central African Republic. The crisis is far from resolved, and is likely to be an enduring one.

Only weeks before the 3 May presidential elections, Déby had to fight off spectacular defections of senior figures from the army and the political elite as well as assassination attempts, all likewise aimed at preventing him from gaining a third term but he won the controversial elections with 64.67 per cent of the vote.[1] Though opposition groups challenged the result, France and the wider international community hastily accepted it to avoid further destabilisation, while declaring that they now expected the president to democratise his regime.

Chad (red on the map) is in north-central Africa and is on the eastern border of Sudan.

chad_map.jpg

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