Monday, February 11, 2008
Chad, Europe & Darfur, Redux
I mentioned the other day that what was really at stake in the fighting in Chad, besides the survival of President Idriss Deby's regime, was the conditions on the ground for the roughly 400,000 refugees located in eastern Chad on the Sudanese border. Chad accused Sudan of supporting the rebels' assault in what was widely seen as an attempt to disrupt the deployment of a UN-mandated EU peacekeeping force. The EUFOR mission is to secure the area for the humanitarian NGO's that run the refugee camps for both Darfur refugees and internally displaced Chadians.
From all the latest reports I've read, the EU nations who comprise the mission have interpreted the rebel operation as an attempt to intimidate out of deploying, and they're determined not to back down in the face of that kind of pressure. So it looks like the mission will deploy as soon as it is logistically possible (ie. once the only land route from the capital to the eastern province has been re-secured).
But now, in an apparent retaliation for Sudan's support of the rebels, Chad says it will no longer accept any more refugees and is threatening to expel those that are already there. Just this weekend, 12,000 more Darfur refugees streamed across the border into Chad following bombing by the Sudanese military. In other words, this would have all the makings of a humanitarian catastrophe, if it weren't for the fact that it already is a humanitarian catastrophe.