Accessibility links

Chad Cease-Fire Breaks Down, Slows Humanitarian Work


A cease-fire between government troops and rebels in eastern Chad has broken down, one month after a peace deal was signed in Libya. Violence in the tense region, where there are many refugees from Sudan's Darfur conflict, is forcing humanitarian workers to scale back operations. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar.

A rebel spokesman, Makaila Nguebla, says the rebels are back on the offensive, gaining territory in eastern Chad.

Army officials in the capital N'djamena deny this, saying their forces have wiped out rebel attacks.

Nguebla says the violence started up again because the government is not taking a peace deal signed in October seriously.

He says they recently sent a delegation that was too low-level in his opinion to talk about the deal's implementation, while not giving rebels key power-sharing posts in the government, such as the vice presidency.

West Africa analyst for the London based group Control Risks Rolake Akinola says the peace deal is not well respected and was very complex to begin with.

"Commitment from both groups and both sides has been very shaky," she said. "On the one hand, the rebels have accused N'Djamena and the government of failing to attend Sudan for peace talks. The government itself is not entirely sure how it is going to accommodate the various ethno-regional interests into one political dispensation. So these events we are seeing in the last few days is not entirely surprising. The peace agreement, as it is, is not entirely workable."

Humanitarian workers helping hundreds of thousands of displaced people are scrambling, trying to figure out how to protect their own staff.

"I got a mail two hours ago that heavy shooting is still ongoing. So we feel concerned," said Roland Van Hauwermeisen, country director for the British-based group Oxfam. "We are checking what could be the impact on our humanitarian operations. Our colleagues in that area have already hibernated."

In addition to the fighting between soldiers and rebels, he says, there have also been attacks by unidentified gunmen in areas with camps. Both displaced people and aid workers have been victimized.

"It started actually one week ago, ten days ago with quite a lot of criminal attacks of gangs for which we cannot find out who it is on small compounds in our region of operations where even people have been harassed, [robbed] and beaten," he added.

Logistical delays could push back the deployment of a planned European force to the region until January. Analyst Akinola says given the current circumstances she is not sure what the force's impact would be.

"It is hard to say the extent to which that would have a significant stabilizing impact on the ground, particularly given the rebel decision now to break the cease-fire," Akinola said. "I think it is going to be quite a challenge for the European force in the current context."

The force also aims to help the situation in northeastern Central African Republic where despite peace deals, there is also an on again, off again rebellion and many displaced people both from the local conflict and from the ones in nearby Sudan and Chad.

XS
SM
MD
LG