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Continuing janjaweed attacks in eastern Chad; UNHCR fears further displacement

Briefing notes

Continuing janjaweed attacks in eastern Chad; UNHCR fears further displacement

6 June 2006

UNHCR is extremely concerned about continuing attacks by janjaweed militia in eastern Chad and the potential for more internal displacement of local Chadians. This ongoing insecurity also poses a threat to 213,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur in a dozen UNHCR-administered camps in this remote region along the border with Sudan. On Saturday, armed militiamen stole 350 head of cattle from a village 20 km west of Koukou Angarana, in the Goz Beida region of eastern Chad. No casualties were reported, but this is just one recent example of escalating violence which is causing increasing displacement and sometimes death.

The janjaweed attacks against Chadians appear to have become more systematic and deadly over the past three months and there is no sign that this pattern will stop.

There are presently an estimated 50,000 displaced people in eastern Chad who have fled their homes in recent months following dozens of attacks by janjaweed. In some cases, people flee out of fear of impending attacks, and many have been displaced several times. A major attack near Modeyna on March 3-4 led to the displacement of thousands of villagers to Koloye, 15 km away. Dozens of local inhabitants were reportedly killed during that attack. Militia later attacked Koloye and the displaced from Modeyna once again had to flee, this time to Gouroukoun, a village near Goz Beida, which presently hosts some 11,000 displaced people.

On April 13, hundreds of janjaweed attacked the village of Djawara, massacring over 100 men and stealing hundreds of cattle. Djawara, 60 km from the Sudan border, and other surrounding villages are now deserted. Most of the inhabitants fled north-east to Dogdore to join others recently displaced. Dogdore now hosts an estimated 9,000 displaced Chadians.

UNHCR teams have interviewed many displaced in spontaneous settlements. They say attacks are being perpetrated by janjaweed militia coming from Sudan. They also said that on several occasions, they recognized Chadians from other tribes taking part in attacks together with the Sudanese janjaweed militia, alleging that those Chadians had concluded agreements with the militia to avoid attacks on their own properties and livestock.

On May 1, a group of 150 janjaweed attacked cattle herders near Koukou, stealing 2,000 head of cattle and killing five people. Repeated attacks early April at the border, especially on the village of Singitao, caused more displacement near Goz Amir refugee camp. UN agencies and NGOs were able to relocate some 1,300 displaced persons to the village of Habile near Koukou.

The arrival of additional displaced persons in Chadian villages and towns often strains already limited resources, including water. The town of Goz Beida, with 6,000 local inhabitants, hosts 14,000 Sudanese refugees in Djabal camp and is now trying to cope with an additional 11,000 displaced Chadians the outlying village of Gouroukoun. Because of the limited water resources, we have started to relocate some of these people to other villages around Goz Beida. So far, we have moved 2,000 people in UNHCR trucks.

These relocations are part of an inter-agency 'cluster approach' toward IDP issues in eastern Chad. UNHCR is responsible for protection and shelter; UNICEF for health and water; and WFP for food security. A few non-governmental organizations are also working with us.

Again, we urge authorities in Chad and Sudan to reinforce security in border regions to prevent further attacks and displacement, and call for more international engagement in dealing with the very serious issue of spreading instability and insecurity.

In all, there are 213,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad as well as 50,000 displaced persons. There are also 47,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in southern Chad.