The Darfur crisis is now 7 years old. The conflict is complex, caused by a host of political, social, economic and environmental problems. Violence in Darfur spread over the border to Chad and the Central African Republic. The result is a humanitarian disaster. The indictment of President Bashir by the International Criminal Court added another element of complexity. Even if a peace agreement was signed in february 2010 between Chad and Sudan, it remains to be seen if the situation will locally really improve.
The conflict started in 2003 against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government, with two rebel groups. In response, the government mounted a campaign of aerial bombardments of rebel positions in the mountains. It was devastating. But the army ground deployment was humiliated by rebels. Army defeat made the government change its strategy. They provided money and assistance to an Arab militia, the Janjanweed. In spring 2004, Janjanweed killed several thousand people and a million more were driven from their homes. The Sudanese government always publicly denied its supports the Janjaweed. The final numbers on the killings are still disputed, the sudanese government saying 10 000 killed, UN saying 300 000 and various NGOs saying 500 000.
Since 2003, the Darfur crisis has affected millions of Sudanese people and more than 2 millions of internally displaced people (IDP) are still living in 50 camps all in Western Darfur.
But the ethnic situation with ethnics groups located on both sides of the border adds to the complexity. The conflict has driven hundreds of thousands of Sudanese residents into Chad. Most of them are still in refugee camps in eastern Chad. In 2010, there are still 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad, managed by NGO (like Care, SECADEV...) and supervised by UNHCR.
In september 2010, UNHCR registered around 248 000 refugees in Chadian camps (near Sudan and CAR borders). The most important camp is Breidjing with more than 32 000 refugees (september 2010). Most of the people have been there for a long time and refugee camps have become real towns. In addition, there are some 170,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in eastern Chad who fled their villages (either because of fighting between the Chadian army and rebel factions armed by Sudan or because of Janjanweed incursions on chadian territory).
In the southern part of Chad, the arrival of new Central African refugees since the beginning of 2009 has made the situation even worse. In April 2009, there were 74,000 refugees coming from Central African Republic and living in southern Chad. There is an increased food insecurity risk for Chad, particularly in the East and the Centre of the country.
The spill-over of the conflict in Darfur, the growth of armed groups in opposition with the Chadian government, have plunged Chad into an acute crisis. Chad had for more than 30 years a culture of violence as a way to political power. All successive presidents (including the actual président Idriss Deby Itno) were at one time rebel leaders. And most of the rebel groups come from the predominently nomadic northern and eastern parts of the country.
In 2005, several Chadian armed opposition groups were created, encouraged by the change of constitution allowing Chadian president Idriss Déby to run for a third term. Rebel groups formed the United Front for Democracy and Change (FUCD) based in eastern Chad, near Sudan border. First attacks begun in December 2005 in Adré (Chadian border control post). In January 2006, rebel forces reached N'Djamena, but they failed to take the capital by force. The last attack in N'Djamena occurred in February 2008 and 30'000 Chadian refugees left to Cameroon.
Chadian government accused Sudan to "arm, finance and equip Chadian rebels on its territory to destabilise Chad." In the other hand, U.N. expert reported in 2006 that Sudanese rebels were getting "financial, political and other material support from neighbouring countries including Libya, Chad and Eritrea".
For one year from 2008 to 2009, the European Union deployed a EUFOR military force led by France. These troops left in spring of 2009 and were replaced by UN troops (under the MINURCAT mandate). This UN force is largely inefficient and President Deby pushes strongly for UN to leave the area. Simulaneously, President Bashir pushes for the departure of the forces deployed in Darfur in joint UN / African Union mission (UNAMID)(
Chad and Sudan ceased diplomatic relations after the february 2008 fightings and renewed contacts only at the beginning of November 2008.
Early in 2010, both countries (Chad and Sudan) were pushed to sign a peace agreement. For Sudan, the 2011 agenda (with a referendum on South Darfur autonomy) and President Bechir international situation brings reasons for a peaceful solution in West Darfur. For Chad, President Deby's situation (with presidential elections coming in 2011 and a lot of local internal feuds) also leads to a more quiet environment.
The Darfur crisis started in 2003-2004 when the situation in South Sudan was stabilizing. What will be the impact of the 2011 referendum on the Darfur situation ? What will be the impact of the recent renewed oil prospection in Darfur (led by middle east oil companies on block12) ? What will be the impact of the future chadian political agenda ?
- UNHRC (UN refugee agency)
- UN-OCHA (Office for the Humanitarian Affairs): Chad and Sudan
- UNOSAT (Operational Satellite Applications Programme)
- UN Missions in Sudan (UNMIS)
- MINURCAT web site
- UNAMID web site
News 2009: "The end of the war in Darfur"
News 2010: Chad and Sudan new relationship
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 March 2013 )