Once again, it appears armed groups are recruiting young men and boys from refugee camps in eastern Chad. About a dozen camps operated by the UNHCR are home to about 200-thousand refugees from neighboring Darfur, Sudan.
Ron Redmond is a spokesman for the UN refugee agency. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.
“We’re concerned because we’re still getting reports that the recruitment of males in refugee camps is continuing. And that’s despite UNHCR’s previous denunciation of these activities and also our repeated appeals to the Chadian government to ensure that the civilian character of these refugee camps is maintained. And that’s crucial because if those camps are militarized in any way they become vulnerable to attacks by whatever group may wish to do so. And that’s of great concern to us,” he says.
The recruitment of male refugees has occurred before. Redmond says, “We started getting reports of this quite some time ago, but in March it became very apparent. And we did some assessments within the camps just speaking to some of the refugees and families of some of the men and boys that had been forcibly recruited. We came up with a number of approximately 4,700, who we believe were recruited in March from two camps (Bredjing and Treguine). And many of those people are still not back in the camps. We believe several hundred young boys under the age of 18 have still not returned to their camps. Of course the refugees and their families are extreme upset about this.”
The UNHCR spokesman adds, “It’s not acceptable at all that people who’ve already suffered the horrors of Darfur are now faced with forced recruitment and militarization. They’ve suffered enough.”