Sudan: March 16, 2004

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Reacting to what the UN has described as a total breakdown of law and order is reported in western Sudan's Darfur region, Chadian patrols have successfully crossed the border and rescued cattle stolen by Sudanese militias known as Janjawid. The Chadian and Sudanese Presidents had signed an agreement allowing Chadian soldiers to cross into Sudanese territory to chase away "rebels", but this was being used to deal with the Janjawid.

For the last six weeks, hundreds of horse and camel-mounted Janjawid (sponsored and armed by Khartoum, but now out of control) have been raiding almost daily into Chadian territory, stealing livestock from refugees who have fled from Darfur. However, the distinction between the army, Popular Defense Forces (PDF) paramilitaries and Janjawid militias blurs when these different groups wear the same style army uniforms. All three groups have been accused of committing atrocities against civilians.

Trying to secure their side of the border, the Sudanese government deployed two 'tanks' and 120 soldiers (with helicopter support) in Bayda, Western Darfur. An additional 100 'government personnel', along 160 military and PDF troops, were stationed in the Northern Darfur State capital Al-Fashir.

The United Nations refugee agency has also relocated over 10,000 Sudanese refugees further into Chad from the border, before the expected arrival of the rainy season in late May. World Food Program (WFP) hand-outs being given to the border region's 700,000 displaced have also been looted, so the WFP wisely decided to make more frequent distributions of smaller amounts of food as a means of protecting displaced people from attacks. - Adam Geibel

 

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