Chad: A Pit Of Pure Evil

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January 14, 2009: It's quiet out there in eastern Chad, too quiet. The 3,700 European peacemakers may not have a lot of combat capability, but they do have some aircraft and UAVs and information collecting skills. Apparently the rebel and government forces on both sides of the Sudan border have been receiving more weapons, learning how to use them, and training new recruits. In other words, while the ceasefire is holding, everyone is getting ready for another round of fighting. Particularly worrisome are Sudanese probes across the border. This includes Sudanese aircraft crossing the border, apparently to look around, at night. Sudanese ground patrols are also all over the border, including night crossings to check out routes that could be used for more raids.

Meanwhile, the civilian aid groups are demanding more military protection for their personnel. Protecting the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in this part of the world is very difficult. For example, the food that is imported to feed half a million refugees and other starving people in Chad, must be trucked in 2,800 kilometers from Libyan ports. There are currently 158 trucks en route, in two convoys. This route (it isn't really a road) can only be used five months a year, because the rest of the time seasonal rains turn stretches of the route into impassable mud and unfordable streams. Libya protects the convoys from bandits until the trucks reach the Chad border. After that, Chad is supposed to take over security, but this does not always happen. As the food trucks move to the half dozen main refugee camps, bandits come in and take what they want. Last year, there were 2-3 attacks on relief workers (two-thirds from NGOs, the rest UN) each week. There are not sufficient peacekeepers in eastern Chad to protect the thousands of relief workers in the area, and the attacks are becoming more numerous and violent.  

The UN is having a hard time getting donations of food and money for Chad operations, and there's even less enthusiasm for contributing troops to the larger (by a third) UN peacekeeper force slated to replace the 3,700 EU troops this year. Everyone, both inside and outside Chad, just wishes the situation would go away. But it won't. It's fly paper for the goodhearted, a pit of pure evil that no one knows what to do with.

 

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