The UN aid effort in Chad (most of it paid for by the United States, and some of the staff are U.S. government employees) has created an economic boom in this otherwise barren patch of desert. These aid efforts provide direct assistance to over 400,000 refugees (most from Sudan, the rest from Chad) and indirect assistance (via economic activity) to 700,000 people living in the border region. All this new economic activity brought in by the foreign aid agencies has attracted bandits (from Sudan and Chad) and common criminals (from the local population and among the refugees) that have created a serious crime problem. Chadian troops and UN peacekeepers have not been able to do much about the crime wave, and increasingly shrill protests from the aid workers has not produced a solution. Foreigners are advised to hire armed bodyguards, and be careful where and when they travel.
Meanwhile, the newly united rebel groups of Chad have selected Timane Erdimi (a cousin of current president Deby) to be the new president of the country. It's expected that the rebels will make another attempt (by dashing 700 kilometers to the capital to overthrow the government) to replace Deby. This new attack is seen as imminent, because the international court is about to issue an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, on war crimes charges. Sudan backs the Chad rebels, and another run on the Chadian capital would be just the thing to distract the international media from this arrest warrant thing.
February 4, 2009: The current global recession is causing nations to cut back on peacekeeping operations. The 3,700 man EU force in Chad is losing its Polish contingent (400 troops) because of budget problems back home. The Polish troops will leave in the next month or so. Poland is withdrawing over a thousand peacekeepers from other parts of the world as well.
February 1, 2009: Growing violence in Chad's neighbor, the Central African Republic (CAR) has caused over 10,000 refugees to flee into southeastern Chad so far this year. CAR has been torn by a tribal conflict since November 2001, when former CAR Army Chief of Staff General Francois Bozize and his supporters fled to Chad after fighting broke out in CAR's capital Bangui. For two years, Libya provided troops to help keep the new government secure. But in 2003, Bozize and his armed followers returned, and the unpopular Ange-Félix Patassé fled. Sort of. Patassé supporters, and people who simply opposed Bozize, or government in general, got guns, and adopted an attitude that they are a law unto themselves. Northwestern CAR was always a lawless place, made worse by years of civil war in nearby Chad, and heavy poaching activity from nearby Sudan. There are over 50,000 CAR refugees in UN refugee camps in southeastern Chad.