Chadian-Sudanese conflict

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Conflict and Peace; Recent History

Chad-Sudan conflict
Image:Chad gunmen.jpg
Masked gunmen on a pickup truck in Chad
Date December 23, 2005 - July 26, 2006
Location Chad, Sudan, Darfur
Result Tripoli Accord, Dakar Accord
Flag of Sudan Sudan
United Front for Democratic Change
Flag of Chad Chad,
Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan
Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir (Sudan),
Mohammed Nour (UFDC)
Idriss Déby
~120,000 est. Sudan + unknown UFDC forces ~23,000 est.
460–1,109 est. 614 est.

The Chad-Sudan conflict began on December 23, 2005, when the government of Chad declared an "état de belligérance", or 'state of belligerency' with Sudan. The BBC and a few other news sources translated "belligérance" as "war".

The conflict grew to involve troops from Chad, Sudan, and France, as well as independent military groups. These include the United Front for Democratic Change, Janjaweed, and the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan. The conflict has also involved Eritrea which the United Nations accuses of supporting rebels in Darfur, Libya, which is also accused of supporting Darfur rebels, but has mediated the conflict, as well as diplomats from the Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, and the African Union. African Union mediators may soon be replaced by an international force, risking further escalation of the conflict.

In their statement, the Chadian government calls for the citizens of Chad to mobilize themselves against the "common enemy", referring to militant members of the Rally for Democracy and Liberty and Platform for Change, Unity and Democracy (SCUD) rebel groups — Chadian rebels, allegedly backed by the Sudanese government — and Sudanese Janjaweed militiamen who crossed over the border from Sudan while pursuing Fur refugees and raiding cities for booty. The RDL denied receiving support from the Sudanese government. Between December 26 and December 28 RDL and SCUD joined with six other rebel groups to form the United Front for Democratic Change rebel alliance, led by Mohammed Nour.

On February 8, 2006 the Tripoli Agreement was signed, which brought a cease to the conflict for approximately two months. Chad at the time still wanted monetary compensation for "the lives that were lost and the chickens that were stolen." The Government of Chad had estimated that 614 Chadian citizens were killed because of the previous conflict. However, with the recent rebel assault on the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, Chad has broken off all relations with Sudan, effectively nullifying the agreement and has threatened to expel refugees from the Darfur region.


Precipitating events

Map of Chad
Map of Chad

Since 2004, Janjaweed militants involved in the Darfur conflict have been attacking villages and towns in eastern Chad, stealing cattle, murdering citizens, and burning houses. Over 200,000 refugees from the Darfur region of northwestern Sudan currently claim asylum in eastern Chad. Refugees from the Central African Republic are also entering southern Chad under UN supervision. Chadian President Idriss Déby accuses Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir of trying to "destabilize our country, to drive our people into misery, to create disorder and export the war from Darfur to Chad."

The RDL rebel group was formed in August 2005, and SCUD, two months later, to overthrow the current government of Chad, which the allied rebel groups say is corrupt and totalitarian. Now there are over 4,000 rebels in the border region between Chad and Sudan. On December 28 the Sudanese Minister for Foreign Affairs al-Samani Wasiylah stated, "This is nonsense — he is just trying to draw attention away from the internal problems he is having. This is a mutiny in the army, everyone knows that, and we don't want to be involved in that."

Chad has denied reports that its air force conducted reconaissance missions over Sudanese airspace.

Second Battle of Adré

An attack on Chadian troops in the town of Adré, near the Sudanese border, by RDL and SCUD militants, on December 18, 2005, led to the deaths of between 100 and 300 rebels, five soldiers, and three civilians. The attack was the second in the region in three days. Sudanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jamal Mohammed Ibrahim denied that Sudan encouraged the rebels.

Chadian Communications Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor announced that Chad holds the Sudanese government responsible for the attacks, since they occurred from within Sudan's borders.

On December 26 Chadian Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi told foreign ambassadors in the capital N'Djamena, "The attacks were repulsed by the Chadian army which, using its right to pursuit, destroyed a few rebel bases implanted in Sudanese territory."

Border town raids in January 2006

On January 6, 2006, Janjaweed militants crossed the border from Sudan into Chad and attacked the cities of Borota, Ade, and Moudaina. Nine civilians were killed and three were seriously injured.

The Chadian government stated, "The Sudanese militias attacked the settlements of Borota, Ade, Moudaina... yesterday killing nine and injuring three among the civilian population... The Chadian government once again warns the Sudanese government against any hasty action because aggression by Sudanese militias will not go unpunished for much longer."

Tripoli Agreement

On February 8, 2006, Chadian President Idriss Déby, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, and Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi signed the Tripoli Agreement, effectively ending the conflict.

The agreement was reached after a mini-summit in Tripoli, Libya, hosted by al-Qaddafi. Current Chairman of the African Union and President of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Central African Republic President François Bozizé, and African Union Chairman of the Commission Alpha Oumar Konaré also attended the summit.

UFDC rebels regard the treaty as "a piece of paper with signatures on it. It means nothing."

Nour's original demands, for Déby to relinquish power, a two year interim period, and fair and free national elections, have been modified. Nour now wants a national forum, before the end of June, for opposition parties and organizations to discuss how the country should move forward politically.

The African ministerial committee, made up of the foreign ministers of Chad, Sudan, Libya, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, and Burkina Faso and the chairman of the executive council of the Community of the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), met in Tripoli on March 6 and Libyan Foreign Minister Abderrahman Chalgham described the results. African Union (AU) Commissioner for peace and security Said Djinnit delivered his report on the conflict and the committee agreed to set up surveillance groups on the Chadian-Sudanese border. The other groups proposed in the Tripoli Agreement are expected to be implemented after the committee’s next meeting, sometime before the end of March. The committee identified 10 positions along the border for surveillance, five on each side of the border, and the states expected to form the control groups and the mechanisms for their operation.

Chalgam said the meeting was "constructive, sincere and detailed," and said the results were "practical."

Continuing rebel activity

Nour said, "A delegation will arrive tomorrow in Libya to present our demands to [Libyan leader] al-Qaddafi. We will have a transitional period, the length of which the forum will decide, and then we will have free and transparent democratic elections. I guess after a week or more we will know what Déby's reaction to this proposal is. If he refuses, then we will attack using force to remove him... No one wants a war, but if that's the only way, we will go to Chad."

Smaller rebel groups and members of the Chadian army continue to pledge allegiance to the UFDC. Another rebel group joined the UFDC on February 13, and Nour says the UFDC is "eight times stronger" than it was when it attacked the city of Adré on December 18.

Colonel Bishara Moussa Farid acted as a peacekeeper in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, later helping both Déby and his predecessor Hissène Habré seize control of the Government of Chad. He recently defected, and said the UFDC is "much better off than the previous resistances. We didn't have equipment and heavy weapons as we do now."

On February 20 two high level generals, Sedi Aguid and Issaka Diar, without authorization from the Government of Chad. President Déby said it was "up to Sudan to explain what the officers are doing in their territory." Mohammed Nour said the generals are "in one of our camps on the border".

Battles of Amdjereme and N'Djamena

On March 6 the Tripoli Accord was violated when the Janjaweed crossed the Sudanese border and attacked the Chadian town of Amdjereme. Chad accused them of stealing hundreds and in some cases thousands of farm animals from the Chadian citizens. The Chadian military chased the Janjaweed back across the border and returned the livestock.

On April 13, 2006 several hundred militiamen attacked the capital of Chad. The attack was repulsed by the regular army and many militiamen were arrested.

President Déby blamed the attack on the government of neighboring Sudan, claiming that many of the rebels were either Sudanese backed by their government or residents of Chad conscripted by the Sudanese. The battle occurred just months after the Chadian-Sudanese conflict had ended with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement. Déby broke off relations with the government of Sudan as a result, expelling its diplomats and threatened to stop sheltering thousands of Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region.

The Djawara massacre

The Djawara massacre took place on April 13, 2006 in the eastern Chadian village of Djawara. Approximately 75 civilians were shot or hacked to death by Sudanese Janjaweed militia and local Chadian rebels.

Human Rights Watch has reported that between April 12 and 13, Janjaweed also killed a total of 43 people in three other villages in the vicinity -- Gimeze, Singatao, and Korkosanyo.

Alleged Sudanese support for Chadian rebels

Members of the Chadian government repeatedly accused Sudan of supporting the United Front for Democratic Change rebel alliance financially, territorially, and by providing weapons. On December 30, the Chadian government broadened their accusation, alleging that rebels had been given airtime on Sudanese State television and that after the second attack on Adré, Sudanese citizens were among the rebels taken prisoner.

Chadian Deputy Foreign Minister Lucienne Dillah told the Chadian parliament in Ndjamena, which then voted to back President Idriss Déby's anti-rebel activities, "It seems clear that Sudan is arming, financing and equipping Chadian rebels on its territory to destabilise Chad. The presence of Sudanese among the attackers taken prisoner (after the December 18 attack on Adré) is a blatant example. Khartoum warmly welcomed the desertion of some elements of the Chadian army and the defection of some senior officials in December."

Dillah went on to say that Chadian rebel leaders "made several appearances on Sudanese television before satellite channel Al-Jazeera showed the Chadian rebel base on Sudanese soil on December 11."

Dillah showed the Parliament several photographs of Mohammed Nour posing next to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. After Dillah's speech the Parliament called on Khartoum not to jeopardize "the historic links" between Sudan and Chad.

Déby also alleges that the Sudanese-sponsored Janjaweed militia killed 55 shepherds in Madioun village before Chad's army killed 17 of "the horse-men who were wearing the military uniform". Three Chadian soldiers were killed.

The African Union will set up a commission of enquiry to investigate Chad's evidence.

Peter Takirambudde, the Africa director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement in February 2006, "You may have thought the terrible situation in Darfur couldn't get worse, but it has. Sudan's policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad."

Alleged foreign support for Sudanese rebels

U.N. experts working in Darfur reported on January 9 that rebels were getting "financial, political and other material support from neighbouring countries including Libya, Chad and Eritrea". On January 12 Chadian Information Minister Doumgor said, "This lying information attributed to a supposed report by United Nations experts has no other aim than to justify the Sudanese aggression which Chad is a victim of."

On January 20, 2006, representatives from the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement met in the Chadian capital N'Djamena, and decided to combine the two groups into the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan, the largest rebel alliance in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

ARFWS issued a press statement in French and Arabic stating that "The two movements have agreed to join and coordinate all political, military and social forces, their international relations and to double their combat capacity in a collective body under the name, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan. This union will strengthen the solidarity, cohesion and unity of the people of Sudan in general and that of the west in particular. It will further strengthen the position of the armed movements in (peace) negotiations" currently under way in Abuja in Nigeria."

JEM president and doctor Ibrahim Khalil told reporters, "We have set up this union in the interests of the people of Darfur. To lose time without uniting our efforts means extending the days of the (Khartoum) regime which has become a factor in the disintegration of the regime."

The press statement was also signed by SLM leader Mina Arko Minawi.

ARFWS and the Government of Chad are united in opposition to Sudan heading the African Union at the upcoming summit on January 23.

Chadian demands

On December 27, Déby met with President Obasanjo near the Nigerian city of Lagos. After the meeting Déby told reporters, "I came to complain to the current AU chairman about the continued Sudanese aggression toward Chad." Déby opposes Sudan hosting a summit of AU heads of state on January 23- 24, 2006, and instead proposes that Nigeria once again hold the summit. In Ivory Coast, Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the African Union Commission and former President of Mali, stated, "We already have a very difficult situation in Darfur. If today we must add complications between Chad and Sudan it will be a catastrophe."

On January 9, the Chadian government posted four demands of Sudan on their website:

  • disarm Chadian army deserters and other armed groups in its territory
  • turn militants over to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR
  • halt Sudanese militia raids into Chad
  • pay compensation to those affected by previous raids

Chadian government spokesman Doumgor stated, "If these four conditions are met, Chad sees no obstacle to resuming direct contact with Sudan to renew the ancient ties (based on) non-interference in each others' internal affairs."

Intention for further aggression

Mohammed Nour, leader of the RDL, played down the action at Adré, saying, "We only used less than one sixth of our troops in that attack." However, he warned of another, much larger attack, "probably in the coming few days ... It could even be on N'Djamena." The RDL maintains that only nine rebels were killed and that two are missing, while seventy government troops were killed.

The RDL is only four months old and SCUD is only two months old. Both are made up of former military officials who deserted and set up bases in Darfur.

Britain and the United States have issued travel warnings for those wishing to visit Chad and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns that the area is descending into anarchy. The United Nations has grounded some aid flights and evacuated some relief workers.

Mohammed Nour was interviewed by Opheera McDoom, the first time he was interviewed by a western journalist, on February 13, five days after the Tripoli Agreement was signed. He told McDoom that Chadian army deserters join UFDC ranks everyday, and that the troops bring their weapons and supplies with them. Colonel Ahmed Youssef Bishara's defection alone brings 1,800 new troops. "There's not been anything as big as this in all my experience. Here we have many heavy weapons and many troops -- much more than Déby had. Déby has taken the money from the Chadian people -- now we want freedom. We have people in the high ranks with us. When Déby is sleeping we know what he just ate for dinner."

Internally displaced persons

Refugees from the Central African Republic have fled north into Chad to try to escape a civil war and attacks from bandits known as coupeurs de route, rebels, and government troops who have killed civilians at random to meet body counts, throughout the Chadian-Sudanese conflict. On February 17 2,800 refugees crossed the border after fifty villagers were killed in attacks in the past week. 4,300 refugees came from C.A.R. this year and 45,000 C.A.R. refugees seek political asylum. See also: People's Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy

Eight men in the C.A.R. village Begora were killed on February 11 were killed by the C.A.R. military. An eyewitness known only as Martin described the attack, "We were all sitting under the shade of trees when three army trucks arrived, packed with heavily armed men, grenades attached to their belts. They quickly surrounded our village and started firing. They started shooting indiscriminately at civilians. We were so scared."

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Ron Redmond said, "Some refugees told the UNHCR that they had been attacked by bandits, while others say they were victims of violent attacks by armed rebels and-or the army. The new influx is creating an enormous strain on the already limited financial resources available for our operation in southern Chad."

Refugees typically go to the Chadian village of Békoninga, where they are registered, and are then taken to Gondjé refugee camp.

On average 200 refugees cross the border per day. 4,000 refugees have fled to southern Chad in February as of February 21. UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told journalists in Geneva during a briefing, "Many refugees report they fled attacks by government forces on civilians who CAR troops suspected of supporting various rebel groups. Refugees also mention raids by rebel groups who attack their villages to loot food and cattle, as well as forcibly recruit young men. Some refugees have told UNHCR they have been victims of all three groups – rebels, government soldiers and bandits."

UNHCR representative in Chad Ana Liria-Franch said, "The situation in CAR needs to be addressed urgently by the international community, before it is too late. Abuses against civilians do not appear to be confined to any one side – rebel groups, bandits and government forces are all mentioned by the refugees. It is credible that they are indeed terrifying these helpless populations."

On February 22, UNHCR will move 300 refugees from Békoninga to Gondjé refugee camp.

300,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur have fled west into eastern Chad, 3,600 in Gaga refugee camp, and 100 to 125 refugees arrive everyday, but harassment from rebel groups is so harsh that some Chadian civilians have begun to flee east into western Sudan. Most of these civilians are women and children.

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in a press briefing in Geneva, "So now we've got refugees going in both directions in this increasingly volatile region."

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists at the regular Tuesday press briefing in Geneva, "In addition to the more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur who have sought refuge in eastern Chad in the past three years, we're now seeing indications that some Chadians are themselves fleeing in the opposite direction, to Darfur. Initial assessments by UNHCR and its partners indicate the spontaneous sites have grown over the past two months following a bloody attack on the Chadian border town of Adré last December. Any Chadians among this group are of concern to UNHCR and would be considered asylum seekers pending determination of their status. But there are also many Sudanese nationals among the group, who have possibly been drawn to the settlements in the hope of receiving international assistance."

UNHCR legal officer in West Darfur said, "Some of the Chadians we interviewed told us that they fled directly to the Galu area, where some have relatives. Others wandered in border areas for some time before getting word of the spontaneous sites and then walking to Galu and Azaza."

Women and children make up 75 percent of the camp population.

In New York Secretary-General Kofi Annan discussed the Darfur conflict with non-governmental organizations. A read-out of the meeting released by a spokesman for Mr. Annan said, "The Secretary-General expressed his concern about continuing insecurity and the increasing number of direct threats to relief workers. The Secretary-General thanked the NGOs for their courageous work in assisting those affected by the conflict and, as strategic allies, in working together to protect civilians and provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance." UNHCR is working with the Chadian Government, the World Food Programme, and other organizations at Gaga camp.

"You may have thought the terrible situation in Darfur couldn't get worse, but it has," Peter Takirambudde, Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said last month in a statement. "Sudan's policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad."

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