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Humanitarian Agencies Targets of Carjackers in Eastern Chad

UN officials in Chad are condemning an upsurge in violence in the eastern part of the country. They say a UNICEF staff member was seriously wounded Friday near the town of Abeche during an armed carjacking of her UN vehicle.

It happened outside of compound of the relief agency OXFAM-UK. The woman is currently listed in stable condition at a Paris hospital.

Steve Adkisson is a UNICEF’s representative in Chad. From the capital, N’Djamena, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about what the UN calls “growing criminality.”

He says,” We’re increasingly concerned in the rise in violence against humanitarian workers. There have been more than 23 successful carjackings over the last several months against UN agencies, NGOs, who are present in the east. With each successful carjacking that has gone unprosecuted, uninvestigated, it promotes an air of impunity that demonstrates that such actions can be successful. That is our concern, that the inaction has promoted an environment that’s allowed this to continue to happen. And now we’re seeing an increase in violence.”

Adkisson says all the carjacked vehicles were clearly marked as belong to humanitarian agencies. No word on who’s responsible for the carjackings, all of which have occurred in the east in the vicinity of camps for Darfur refugees.

The humanitarian vehicles “do not have armed escorts,” says Adkisson. “We have requested repeatedly for arrangements with the Chadian authorities. They have demonstrated both a sympathy and a willingness to provide support. But they’re also very honest and upfront to say that their own means are limited to protect themselves and protect the civilian population. We continue to seek engagement with them.”

The UN has issued a statement saying, “The deterioration of the security situation has begun to seriously affect humanitarian operations in eastern Chad.”