Monday, December 19, 2005

More on the Adre attack

Chad blames Sudan after rebel raid, invokes right of pursuit
Chad blamed its neighbour Sudan for a rebel raid on an eastern garrison and announced it was exercising its right to pursue the attackers on Sudanese soil.
"The (Chadian) government holds the Sudanese government wholly responsible for this morning's attack, mounted from its territory," said a spokesman in a statement released in Ndjamena.
Chadian "government forces are now using their right of pursuit to ward off any further threat" against the border town of Adre, added Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor.
It was unclear Sunday afternoon who controlled Adre.
The spokesman said the early morning attack on Adre's garrison was mounted by army deserters allied with a recently formed rebel group called the Rally for Democracy and Liberty (RDL), which Chad accuses of being a "militia used by the Sudanese government."
He said about 100 of the attackers were killed, a toll that could not be independently confirmed.
About 30 people were injured in the fighting and a helicopter accident, according to the international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), which runs a surgical unit in the hospital.
Two rockets, apparently launched as a result of the helicopter accident, fell on the hospital, injuring people both inside and outside the facility, according to an MSF spokesman in Paris.
The Chadian government statement said the attackers had been "surprised by our forces who had been expecting them for several days and dealt them a bruising defeat," the spokesman said.
Late Sunday a Chadian military officer said another 80 rebels were killed in a second assault on the town in the afternoon. "We repulsed them into Sudan," he said, requesting anonymity. He said two Chadian soldiers were also killed.
Contacted by satellite phone, senior RDL official Abdoulaye Abdelkerim claimed his men had taken control of Adre. The same claim had been made Saturday night only to be contradicted by several sources.
A diplomat in the capital said the army still held Adre. "There was an attempt to take it over but it failed," the envoy said.
But an aid worker, citing colleagues in Adre, said the town had fallen.
Recent weeks have seen a volley of accusations between Ndjamana and Khartoum, with Chad charging that Sudan has been happy to host its rebels and a growing wave of army deserters in order to destabilize Chad.
Sudan has said Chad had already deployed planes and troops on its territory before the latest incident, allegations denied by Ndjamena.
Several new rebel groups have sprung up recently in eastern Chad, which plays host to some 200,000 refugees from the civil war in Sudan's Darfur region

Chadian Rebels Kill 100; Chad Blames Sudan
DAKAR, Senegal Dec. 18 - At least 100 people were killed in an attack by a rebel group on a town in Chad near its border with Sudan, Chadian officials said, the latest violence to erupt on the long, porous border between the two troubled nations.
A rebel group made up largely of deserters from Chad's army attacked the town of Adré early Sunday morning, Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor, Chad's minister of information, told Reuters.
He blamed the Sudanese government, saying it backed the rebel group, known as the Rally for Democracy and Liberty. The group is demanding that President Idriss Déby of Chad step down.
The attack comes as Chad struggles with a tide of financial, security and political woes. Mr. Déby seized power in 1990, ending a bloody civil war that had tortured the country on and off since its independence in 1960. While Mr. Déby is credited with bringing stability and, under pressure, multiparty democracy to Chad, divisions within the country's powerful military and the ruling Zaghawa tribe have undermined his authority.
Between 600 and 800 soldiers have defected to create a new rebel group in the eastern part of the country. Mr. Déby dissolved his Presidential Guard earlier this fall and replaced it with a new security force, a move widely seen as indicative of his mistrust of elements of the military.
A vast, landlocked nation roughly three times the size of California, Chad has struggled to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees who flooded across its border with the Darfur region of Sudan, where ethnic warfare rages. At least 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and millions have been forced from their villages.
The conflict in Darfur, in which several rebel groups, including one led by the Zaghawa tribe, are fighting the Sudanese government and the Arab janjaweed militias allied with it, has threatened to engulf Chad as conflicts have erupted along the border between the two nations.
With less than 3 percent of its land arable and little industry, Chad is desperately poor. The government had agreed to spend most of its profits from oil, discovered there in 1973, on poverty reduction. But in October, just as the revenues began to flow, the government changed its mind.

Attack on Adre

Chad reports 100 killed in attack near Sudan border
N'DJAMENA, Chad (Reuters) -- Chadian troops repulsed an attack on a town near the Sudanese border on Sunday in fighting that killed around 100 people, Communication Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said.
"There was an attack this morning in the town of Adre," Doumgor told Reuters. "The army counter-attacked ... there were around 100 killed," he said, adding losses on the rebel side had been worse than on the government side in what aid workers say is the worst offensive to date of a growing conflict.
The death toll could not immediately be verified.
Earlier Sudanese rebels and aid workers reported hearing large explosions and heavy fighting near Adre, a small town a few miles from the border.
"This began last night and until now we can still hear very loud explosions and heavy arms being used from the area of Adre town," said Hassan Khamis, a commander in Sudan's Darfur rebel National Movement for Reform and Development, whose areas of control run along the border.
"We can hear loud explosions from here," said one aid worker in the main West Darfur town of el-Geneina who declined to be named for security reasons.
Scores of Chadian soldiers deserted their barracks in late September before regrouping near the border, and the government has accused Sudan of using the deserters to fight rebels in Darfur and of backing Chadian rebel activities.
Sudanese army sources reported sporadic fighting in recent days, crossing over the long, porous border between the countries, but added the Sudanese army was not involved.
Both Darfuri rebels and aid workers in the region have reported large troop movements during the past two weeks near the border, with reports of Chadian troops patrolling on the Sudanese side of the border.
Chad has said it was prepared to send troops into Darfur to pursue the deserters, who pose a threat to President Idriss Deby by demanding his resignation. They are also accused of attacks on army bases in the capital N'Djamena.
The clashes add to tensions in Darfur, which has been in open revolt for almost three years. One of the main Darfur rebel tribes, the Zaghawa, live on both sides of the border.

Another Civil War for Chad?

Greetings all. I haven't quite had the energy to give my commentary these past few weeks. There has been a dramatic escalation in the security situation, as a number of people have defected from the army and government (and from the President's own tribe) to join the rebels (who we understand are organizing themselves just across the border in Darfur, Sudan). There have been a number of attacks in Eastern Chad over the past weeks and the government is visibly concerned, transporting huge loads of munitions and weapons to fortify the East. Information is incredibly hard to come by, which I suppose is not so surprising in a country with no real press. I've seen children selling pieces of paper in the streets of N'djamena that are supposedly the "newspapers". But anybody reporting truth would surely be jailed or killed.

In Iriba, there are no authorities remaining. They've all run off to join the rebels. The rebels are composed largely of Zaghawa, who are from Iriba, Guereda and other areas in Eastern Chad. Yesterday they attacked the town of Adre on the border, which is historically significant, as every successful rebel movement has always taken Adre first (including the current president). The rebels were pushed back by the government troops and with a high death toll. There is little doubt that these attacks will continue.

It's been interesting to talk to different people in N'djamena, from different regions, to get their perspectives. The bottom line? People are scared. Civil war is scary. Chadians know because they have lived through one to many. Most say it is best if Deby just stays in power. They say his pockets are already full. If somebody new comes to power, his pockets will be empty, so he will have to kill to fill up those pockets.

There's a lot more to the story to come...

Saturday, December 17, 2005


This is a group of gendarmes that I trained on gender-based violence. Look at how diligent they are with their studies! Contrary to my expectations, the training went very well and everybody seemed genuinely interested in what we were trying to convey about their role in preventing GBV and responding to young women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence, dometic abuse, and other forms of gender-based violence.


Pumping gas, N'djamena style! Yes, the clunker that I've been stuck roaming around the capital is quite the gas sucker, thus we ran out of gas in the middle of the city. Good thing for dude on the corner with the water bottle full of gas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Little tidbit

Remember the annoying Prefect who demanded I be his secretary? Well, he is among the many who defected to join the rebels last week.

President Deby on unstable territory

Chad: Top Brass Defectors Protest Deby Rule
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks NEWSDecember 12, 2005
Posted to the web December 12, 2005 Ndjamena

Chad President Idriss Deby marked 15 years at the helm of the vast arid nation this weekend amid reports of new defections by members of his inner circle as well as the military.
Army and government sources on Monday said key local government officials as well as several officers had deserted their posts at the weekend, swelling the ranks of rebel forces hiding out in the sandy eastern stretches of the oil-producing nation.
And in a written statement handed to the media, two of his nephews and ex senior aides, Tom and Timane Erdimi, who respectively held top jobs in the country's oil and cotton sectors, said they were joining those bent on evicting Deby from office.
"Today many Chadians are struggling in various ways and means against the Deby regime, we join them without regret," they said in the statement.
For the past two months a group of anti-Deby soldiers-turned-rebels has operated in the volatile region bordering Sudan's Western Darfur under the name of SCUD, which stands for "Platform for Change, National Unity and Democracy".
Although Deby initially took power with Sudan's blessing, the almost three-year conflict in the troubled Darfur region has spilled across the border, with Khartoum and N'Djamena at times trading accusations of supporting each sides' enemies.
Deby, a member of the Zaghawa ethnic group, has come under attack from Chadian soldiers of the same group for not doing more to help their Sudanese kinsmen fight government forces and allied militia in Darfur.
Deby's kinsmen were behind a mutiny in May 2004.
But SCUD leader Yaya Dilo Djerou, who is also Zaghawa, says the dissident group's concerns are with broader government policy and that it has a far wider support base.
At a 15th anniversary speech this weekend in his hometown of Fada, more than 1,000 kilometres northeast of the capital N'Djamena, Deby did not dwell at length on the mutineers but did pledge to fight back.
"I will never allow these adventurers to undermine our democratic achievements," said the president, who seized power in 1990 before subsequently winning elections in 1996 and 2001.
An army officer turned president, Deby appears to be facing growing dissension within his armed forces.
In October he overhauled his presidential guard days after an undetermined number of soldiers deserted their posts in N'djamena and fled to the east. In November he reshuffled officers in top military posts.
He said last month that some of the SCUD deserters were involved in a plot to topple him in May 2004 but dismissed the group as being insignificant. "It's a short-lived venture - a minor group," Deby said.
SCUD leader Dilo Djerou has said the group numbers several hundred.
Implicitly reiterating charges that the Sudanese government was propping up the rebels, Deby in his weekend speech urged Khartoum "to abandon all action destabilising Chad."
In eastern Chad, local officials on Monday reported the defection of the prefect - government representative - and deputy prefect of Iriba and the deputy prefect of Goz Beida.
Last week, clashes between troops and rebels near Adre on the border with Sudan left a dozen soldiers dead and five injured, according to military sources. Rebels seized three army vehicles loaded with arms and destroyed two others.
Meanwhile military sources on Monday said several officers based at the northern Bardai barracks had deserted on Saturday.
In N'Djamena, the ministers of defence and public security met with the armed forces chief of staff but there was no confirmation available on reports that Goz Beida had fallen into the hands of the SCUD rebels.
In their statement the Ermini brothers, who were joined by the former head of the food security office Mahamat Abdelkerim Hanno and the former head of the National Administration and Magistrates School Abakar Tolli, called for a transition period leading to new elections after Deby's ejection.
Responding to their strong words against the Deby regime, accused of corruption and of impoverishing the country, Communications Minister Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor accused Tom Ermini on Monday of treason and of embezzling millions of dollars while carrying out his job coordinating Chad's oil programme from 2000 to 2004.
"He has run away because the noose is tightening both following his involvement in the 16 May 2004 attack against the head of state and because of the inquiry into his management of funds," Doumgor said.
Ermini immediately denied the accusations in a statement on the Internet.
"The only error I will admit to is having worked and staunchly supported Deby," he said.

That sneaky Chadian government...

Chad Backs Out of Pledge to Use Oil Wealth to Reduce Poverty
ACCRA, Ghana, Dec. 12 - When the World Bank said more than five years ago that it would help Chad build a $4.2 billion pipeline to export the oil discovered in the southern part of that landlocked, deeply impoverished nation, it seemed an opportunity to give the lie to the resource curse that is the painful experience of virtually every oil-rich African nation: that oil wealth typically creates more problems for poor countries than it solves.
In exchange for World Bank loans to build a 670-mile underground pipeline through Cameroon to export its oil, the Chadian government passed a law requiring that almost all of the money it earns on oil exports be spent for poverty reduction and that 10 percent be put aside as a "future generations fund," to leave something behind once the estimated one billion barrels of oil have been exhausted.
But in October, Chad's government abruptly announced at a meeting with the World Bank in N'Djamena, the capital, that it plans to alter that law and funnel more money into its general budget and increase spending on security.
Under the new proposal, the future generations fund would be scrapped and military spending would be added to the list of "priority sectors" that until now focused on spending in areas like agriculture, housing, health care and education.
"These are fundamental changes to the agreement Chad made on oil revenue management," said Ian Gary, an expert on oil at Oxfam America who has written several research reports critical of the Chad oil industry.
The changes, he said, make it far less likely the people of Chad will see any benefit from the billions of dollars Chad's oil fields are likely to pump into the economy, which in turn undermines the antipoverty rationale of the World Bank's role in the project.
The World Bank acknowledges that the Chadian government faces serious financial problems, and needs the money to pay salaries for civil servants and to deal with security threats, and has offered technical assistance to help bring spending under control.
"The adopted bill redefines the priority areas, abolishes the future generations fund, alters the way in which funds are allocated and extends the law to apply to new oilfields," Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor, a government spokesman, told Reuters.
Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank, released a statement expressing "serious concerns" about the changes.
"In the World Bank's view, these modifications alone will fail to provide a lasting solution to the recurring financial problems that Chad faces," the statement said. "To the contrary, they threaten to undermine the objectives of socioeconomic development, poverty reduction, accountability and transparency that guided World Bank Group and other international support for the Chad-Cameroon pipeline project."
World Bank officials have been in constant negotiations with the Chadian government over the proposed law, which is now before the legislature. Approval is largely a formality because the legislature is controlled by the party of Idriss Déby, who seized power after a civil war in 1990 and was elected president in 1996.
Under the current law, all payments made by ExxonMobil and its partners, which run the oil operation, go into an escrow account at Citibank in London, while taxes on oil profits and other indirect revenue go directly into the state treasury.
Of the money that goes to the escrow account, 10 percent is set aside for Chad's post-oil future, 72 percent goes to poverty reduction project and the remainder is split between the federal government and the local authorities where oil is extracted.
A committee that includes government officials and civil society representatives must approve projects paid for with money from direct oil sales. In addition to scrapping the future fund, the new law would double the percentage of money the federal government can spend without oversight to 30 percent.
The proposed changes have drawn angry reactions from civic groups in Chad, many of which were skeptical about the pipeline deal to begin with and warned the World Bank that the government would pull out once the oil money started flowing.
"It was at the very beginning clear that the government has adopted that law only to get the World Bank approved oil project," said Delphine Djiraibe of the Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, one of the groups that fought the pipeline deal. "Now that everything is finished and money is coming in, the government is doing whatever they want regardless of the agreement they have signed with World Bank or commitments they have made to use oil money to fight poverty."
Chad, one of Africa's poorest countries, has a long history of instability and bloodshed. A vast, arid land about three times the size of California, it is home to 10 million people.
A majority of its citizens rely on subsistence agriculture and animal herding. It ranks 167 of 177 nations on the United Nations Development Index. Transparency International's 2005 survey of corruption around the world gave it the worst score, an ignominy it shares with Bangladesh.
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, it has been tormented by civil wars fueled by ethnic and religious tensions. Like Sudan, its restive neighbor to the east, its northern population is largely Muslim and has dominated the country's politics, while its southern half is largely Christian and animist.
Mr. Déby's rule has been a relatively stable period in the country's history, but the troubles in the Darfur region of Sudan, which borders eastern Chad, have spilled over into Chad along with 300,000 refugees. Internal divisions, along with reports of Mr. Déby's failing health, have led to much speculation that the government is on shaky ground.
"All of this is taking place against a backdrop of increasing fragility of the Déby regime," Mr. Gary said.
The push to spend more on security has occurred as the Chadian military has been afflicted by defections and low morale.
A group of soldiers who defected have started a rebel movement on the eastern edge of the country, and Mr. Déby overhauled the republican guard responsible for his safety in October. Last month, he also shuffled the military leadership.
Since it began exporting oil in 2003, Chad has taken in about $300 million, and under the petroleum revenue management law, two-thirds has gone to things like education, water systems, health care and basic infrastructure and transportation.
About $30 million has gone into the future generations fund, while 5 percent of the money has gone back to the oil-producing regions for development.

Justice for Darfur - well at least for the International Community

Global criminal court seeks probe in Sudan's Darfur
By Evelyn LeopoldReutersTuesday, December 13, 2005; 5:12 AM
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The prosecutor of the new International Criminal Court said he was investigating killings, mass rapes and other atrocities in lawless Darfur but had not been able to conduct inquiries in Sudan itself.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, whose report was obtained by Reuters, on Tuesday addresses the U.N. Security Council, which asked him last March to prosecute individuals responsible for atrocities in Darfur.
After identifying "particularly grave events" such as the "high numbers of killings," mass rapes and other crimes, he said he had "now selected a number of alleged criminal incidents for full investigation."
But his team of 29 experts has not been able to interview witnesses in Sudan. Instead, Moreno Ocampo, an Argentine, said he had "screened" 100 potential witnesses outside of Sudan and said he expected assistance from 11 nations and 17 advocacy and humanitarian groups.
In addition, he said his office had analyzed more than 2,500 items collected by a U.N.-established inquiry commission that reported last January.
The prosecutor, who has made one trip to Khartoum to talk to government officials, said he hoped to visit Sudan's special court and other judicial bodies investigating crimes in Darfur early next year.
Under the 1998 Rome statutes setting up the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), the prosecutor can only conduct investigations when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.
Among 160 suspects, Sudan's special court has convicted 13, including one for murder, Moreno Ocampo said.
But in an 85-page report over the weekend, timed for his visit, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said not one mid- or high level government official, military commander or militia leader had been suspended, prosecuted or investigated by Sudanese courts.
Moreno Ocampo gave a list of actions he would or could not take, including the almost impossible task of protecting witnesses. He also said he was considering whether a prosecution would interfere with the peace process.
And he said a list of 51 suspects given to him by the U.N. inquiry commission last April was "in no way binding" and had to be re-investigated by his staff.
That commission urged suspects be tried by the ICC and accused the government and allied Arab militia of torture, rape, killings and pillaging. It also accused Sudanese rebels of violence.
The United Nations has called Darfur one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, saying the conflict between the rebels, the government and its allied Arab militia has caused countless deaths, rapes and uprooted 2 million people.
The International Criminal Court is the first permanent global war crimes tribunal, first envisioned after the Nuremberg trials at the end of World War II.
It was set up to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed after July 1, 2002.
The United States vehemently opposes the tribunal, arguing that it could initiate politically motivated prosecutions of American troops and officials abroad. But it allowed the council last March to refer Darfur to the ICC by abstaining.
A total of 100 countries have ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty that established the court and believe it contains enough safeguards to prevent frivolous prosecutions.

Top Sudan leaders had role in Darfur crimes - report
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and 20 other government, military and Janjaweed militia members should be investigated for ordering, condoning or carrying out atrocities in the Darfur region, a leading human rights group said.
The 85-page report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, released on Sunday, documents through eyewitness accounts, government papers and its own investigations of their alleged role in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur since mid-2003.
"The Sudanese government at the highest levels is responsible for widespread and systematic abuses in Darfur," the report said. "The Sudanese government's systematic attacks on civilians in Darfur have been accompanied by a policy of impunity for all those responsible for the crimes."
The report was prepared for use by the International Criminal Court, which the U.N. Security Council assigned in March to indict individuals responsible for the abuses. Its prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, addresses the council on Tuesday but has not yet ordered any indictments.
In addition, the rights group said the U.N. Security Council should incorporate the list of names in its register of suspects eligible for travel and other sanctions. The council voted for the sanctions nine months ago but has taken no action.
Tens of thousands of Sudanese have been killed since a revolt in Darfur began in early 2003 by non-Arab villagers who accused the government of neglect and repression. The report charged that Khartoum in retaliation armed Arab Janjaweed militia and drafted them into police and other security forces as they looted, raped and drove 2 million people out of their homes.
The Khartoum government over the past two years has vigorously denied its affiliation with the Janjaweed and set up its own special courts to try suspects. But Human Rights Watch said the government has made no "genuine" effort to investigate, discipline or prosecute those responsible.
By early 2004 it was clear, even to some soldiers, that civilians were the targets, said the report, entitled "Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur."
One former soldier was quoted as telling Human Rights Watch that when he protested to his commander, he was told, "You have to attack the civilians."
Although the Sudanese government probably does not have full control over all militia any longer, the report says the "out of control" state of affairs provides the government with the deniability it believes it needs to counter international protests."
Bashir, a lieutenant general, who is also commander-in-chief of the army, played a pivotal role, the report said. Even his public statements were "precursors to the call to arms and peaks in the violence, and no doubt echoed the private directives given to the civilian administration, military, and security services."
Also on the list is Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who has been praised for negotiating the north-south peace agreement that a year ago ended decades of civil war.
The report acknowledged there was little documentary evidence about Taha. But it quoted community leaders who said he arranged for the release from prison in 2003 of Musa Hilal, an acknowledged Janjaweed figure. They contended Hilal, also on the rights group list, took orders from Taha alone.
Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Abduraheem Mohammed Hussein, the former interior minister, was Bashir's envoy in Darfur in 1994. The report said he appeared to have played a central role in coordinating the "ethnic cleansing" campaign, with his deputy, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Haroun, also on the list.
"Both were named by numerous witnesses who noted that their visits to Darfur always preceded military offensives and militia attacks," the report said.
December 12, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Silence Prevails??

I am tired of talking to myself on this thing…

I’ve been ill on and off for awhile. I can’t find a proper diagnosis, so I simply call it Chad. This weekend I went to the hospital in Abeche, which was a tourist experience to be had. Using our connections, we (meaning I am not alone in my Chad) were quickly seen for the always useful malaria test. They offered to do some other tests, but I opted to refrain (peeing in a cup without a bathroom?), and settled in for the quick finger prick malaria test. Well, that quick finger prick turned into a rather interesting discussion on Bush and I was so pleased to find some sympathetic Chadians (“We love Clinton!”). In the end, the big result was negative, but I was still sent off with a collection of drugs.

I also found some time in Abeche to read the newspaper at UNHCR – well papers from last month, but it’s still news to me! Riots in Paris, protests in Tehran, the usual Thomas Friedman op-ed, German grand coalition – who knew?

I took a field trip early last week with an obliging NGO to Tine, on the Sudanese border. It is the shopping Mecca of Eastern Chad, so I had pretty big expectations, as I am sure you can imagine. What I found was a funny little Chinatown of sorts – lots of Penasonics, but not many people buying! I was also initially overwhelmed by the military presence, but was pleasantly surprised to find that many of them are African Union (AU) troops – the Tine bunch were Senegalese. Frankly, I thought they were only in Darfur, but apparently their mandate has been expanded to include Eastern Chad. Interesting, indeed.

Most annoying event of the day? The Prefect coming to my office this morning and expecting ME to stop all work to be his secretary, type some letters and print them (mind you our printer works NEVER and we have to hassle to turn on the generator and burn our fuel to engage in such an endeavor). The Prefect is appointed by the President and this one is so typically young and arrogant, at the same time, the Chadian staff walk on eggshells for him. I brushed off the Prefect, saying that I don’t speak French anyways, but then one of my staff just had to pipe up and volunteer herself and my computer. Terrific. I bit my tongue for a good hour until I could show the man the door.