By Eric Reeves
August 8, 2017 (SSNA) — African/non-Arab refugees from violence in Darfur began to flee to eastern Chad well before the date conventionally used to mark the outbreak of large-scale violence in Darfur itself, February 2003—fourteen and a half years ago. The Massalit in particular were victims of brutal attacks by Khartoum-sanctioned militias in the 1990s, and they have suffered particularly severe and concentrated human destruction and displacement. This is true even within the ghastly context of Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur, beginning in earnest following the successful rebel attack on the El Fasher airbase in April 2003.
Hundreds of thousands of African/non-Arab Darfuris remain trapped as refugees in twelve main camps in eastern Chad, unable to return because of the massive insecurity that continues to prevail in most of Darfur—insecurity that will only increase with the severe reductions in the UN/African Union “hybrid” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). On June 30, 2017 the UN Security Council renewed the mandate for UNAMID, but—at Khartoum’s behest—reduced the military presence in Darfur by 44 percent and the police presence by more than 30 percent.
Perhaps, then, it should not be surprising that Sudan Tribune today reports the following:
- Sudanese refugees say they want to settle in Chad | August 7, 2017 (KHARTOUM) | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article63192
Over 500 Sudanese from West Darfur state who have recently moved into eastern Chad told the UN refugee agency they have no intention to return to their homeland. In an update on the refugee situation in Chad released on 7 August, the UNCHR Chad said some 112 families, 512 people have arrived the village of Katarfa in eastern Chad on Saturday 29th July 2017. The Sudanese refugees, “mainly women and children are from the Massalit ethnic group, told the UN aid workers they fled their village, Terbebe or Terbiba near the border with Chad, following a surge of violence after a clash between a Massalit farmer and a cattle herder.
In a report about the refugees in Chad released on 31 July, the UNHCR says there are 319,512 Sudanese refugees generally residing in 12 camps in the eastern part of the country since 2003.
Perhaps of note, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) “Factsheet” of May 2017 (https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/56878/) gives a figure of 317,219 Darfuri refugees—more than 2,000 fewer than the July 31, 2017 report cited by Sudan Tribune. And given the substance of the Sudan Tribune report, an increase in the number of Darfuri refugees is a distinct possibility.
Indeed, so low a priority have Darfuri refugees been in eastern Chad, that it seems important to note first of all how rare reporting is of any kind. And what reporting there is seems not to figure in the accounts rendered by UNHCR, which often ignore the intense resistance of these refugees to any thought of returning voluntarily to Darfur:
- Refugees in eastern Chad refuse to return to Darfur | Radio Dabanga | November 1, 2015 | EASTERN CHAD | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/refugees-in-eastern-chad-refuse-to-return-to-darfur
The Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad categorically refuse to join the voluntary repatriation programme in the current insecure climate. The refugees set the restoration of the rule of law, disarmament of the militias, prosecution of the perpetrators of war crimes, and compensation, as conditions for their voluntary return. A delegation of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and a representative of the Chadian government, held a meeting with refugee leaders in the Djabal camp on Tuesday concerning the voluntary repatriation programme, as agreed between the UNHCR and the Sudanese and Chadian authorities in September. “They told us that a Sudanese delegation will visit the camps in November to prepare for the return of the refugees,” El Zein Mohamed Ahmed, Radio Dabanga correspondent in eastern Chad reported.
“The refugee elders and sheikhs asserted their categorical rejection of the voluntary repatriation programme while the situation in most parts of Darfur is still extremely unsafe and insecure,” he said. “They told them the refugees will not welcome any delegation from the Khartoum regime, which is the main cause of their suffering.”
A similar account could be found in a report from the independent UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) several years earlier:
- Darfur’s Forgotten Refugees | IRIN | GOZ BEIDA, 10 August 2012
Ten years after fleeing violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur, Abdulla Juma Abubakr has no intention of returning home. After leaving the West Darfur town of El-Geneina in 2002, he first spent two years in a border camp inside Sudan, before moving on to Djabal, a refugee camp in eastern Chad’s Goz-Beida region. “From what I saw when we left, the way people were killed, mosques burnt… I can’t imagine going back,” Abubakr, a refugee leader at the camp, told IRIN. “I know that other people are going back but I can’t go back. I still have some family members in Darfur but I can’t be sure of my security if I return.”
Many of the camp’s 18,000 refugees, most of them from Darfur, are also reluctant to return home. “The Darfur refugees have put many conditions towards return – security and recovery of property and land and other things,” Aminata Gueye, the representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Chad, told IRIN.
“We were working on a tripartite mechanism with respect to possible repatriation, but as long as the situation is not good they will not return. We were hoping in 2013 to facilitate the returns of some refugees, mainly the Masaliet.” The Masaliet are a non-Arab ethnic group found in parts of Sudan and Chad.
Reporting on Darfuri refugees has been made more difficult by the fact that UNHCR has not regularly provided a current total for refugees, and the number used in what reporting there is on the refugee crisis has offered very substantially varying figures. A timeline of figures as reported by UNHCR and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs over the past decade appears here as APPENDIX A; it is quite possible that the present figure is considerably higher than UNHCR indicates because of significant limitations in survey tools. Disgracefully in Darfur itself, UN OCHA has been deeply irresponsible in its promulgation of figures for displacement since the tenure of Georg Charpentier (UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Darfur, 2009 – 2011). The problems have persisted: see “Displacement in Sudan and Darfur: UN figures continue to be careless, corrupt, or inadequate” | May 22, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-23o.
I have myself written regularly about the refugee situation in eastern Chad for more than a decade, trying to highlight the plight of these invisible people. Exactly one year ago I attempted ask about the number of refugees in Chad, given the challenges posed by UNHCR refusals to be consistently forthcoming:
- “How Many Refugees in Chad?” | (August 9, 2016 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Vw/)
In late April of this year  I published “Invisible, Forgotten, and Suffering: Darfuri Refugees in Eastern Chad,” (Sudan Tribune, April 28, 2016 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article58797/). The piece drew a sharply critical response from UN High Commission for Refugee officials in Chad, although they addressed few of the issues I raised in my piece. One issue, however, was clarified in the email exchange between me and these UNHCR officials (emails: April 29 – April 30, 2016): the number of Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad as of the time, according to UNHCR, was 302,000—well below the figure of 380,000 that UNHCR had promulgated just a year earlier (see below).[This analysis was a follow-up to: “Darfuri Refugees in Eastern Chad: Among the world’s most forgotten people” (18 July 2014 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article587/]
Notably, neither UNHCR figure—302,000 or 380,000—corresponds with the present figure of “319,512.” If we assume that “302,000” was the correct figure in April 2016, this means that the Darfur refugee population in Darfur has increased by more than 17,000—a much greater figure than the recent increase of “500 people” reported by Sudan Tribune.
This sort of large fluctuation has unfortunately been the norm for UNHCR, a significant problem, given the ways in which humanitarian resources are allocated on the basis of the size of an affected population. Reports of failures to deliver food, of food shortages, lack of sheltering material, lack of medical care (and especially treatment for girls and women who have been victims of sexual violence), educational shortcomings—all have been constants, though almost never reported except by Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune. The report from IRIN in 2012 is a notable exception.
Genocide in Darfur Spreads to Eastern Chad
In 2005 – 2006 the ethnically-targeted violence in Darfur began to spill into eastern Chad in a way that posed serious threats to the refugee population—a development chronicled by Human Rights Watch and others:
- “Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad”| February 21, 2006 | http://pantheon.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/africa/chad0206/
The crisis in Darfur, Sudan, which has been trickling into Chad for the better part of three years, is now bleeding freely across the border. A counterinsurgency carried out by the Sudanese government and its militias against rebel groups in Darfur, characterized by war crimes and “ethnic cleansing,” has forcibly displaced almost two million civilians in Darfur and another 220,000 people who have fled across the border into Chad. The same ethnic “Janjaweed” militias that have committed systematic abuses in Darfur have staged cross-border raids into Chad, attacking Darfurian refugees and Chadian villagers alike, seizing their livestock and killing those who resist.
The government of Sudan is actively exporting the Darfur crisis to its neighbor by providing material support to Janjaweed militias and by failing to disarm or control them, by backing Chadian rebel groups that it allows to operate from bases in Darfur, and by deploying its own armed forces across the border into Chad.
Other publications from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International followed:
- Chad/Sudan: Sowing the Seeds of Darfur: Ethnic Targeting in Chad by Janjawid Militias from Sudan| Amnesty International, 27 June 2006, Index number: AFR 20/006/2006 | https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr20/006/2006/en/
The Janjawid have now extended their activities Sudan’s Darfur region into eastern Chad. There, they have targeted a diverse range of ethnic groups who identify themselves and are identified by others as “African” rather than “Arab.” The Janjawid have stolen the cattle that are their main source of wealth, driven them from their homes and villages, and killed or dispersed their inhabitants. Urgent action is required by the UN, the African Union (AU) and particularly the two governments involved if this new, emerging crisis is to be forestalled in eastern Chad.
- “Violence beyond borders: The human rights crisis in eastern Chad”| Human Rights Watch, 22 June 2006 | http://reliefweb.int/report/chad/violence-beyond-borders-human-rights-crisis-eastern-chad
I published my own assessment in the Boston Globe on April 26, 2006 (“The Looming Chaos in Chad”), assessing the political impact of Chadian rebel movements and the response of Chad’s brutally expedient president, Idriss Déby (http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/04/26/the_looming_chaos_in_chad/)
A much more recent and very moving account comes Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada:
- “‘It always feels like something is about to explode’: Tensions along the Chad Darfur border,” by Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada, November 19, 2013)
But with the defeat of Chadian rebels and the diminishment of cross-border genocidal violence by Khartoum’s militias, Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad became increasingly invisible. Indeed, In would argue would argue that they are the most invisible of the surviving victims of the Darfur genocide, even as mortality has at times been significant in some of the refugee camps.
Violence and Humanitarian Conditions for Darfuri Refugees in Eastern Chad
There is far too little reporting on the conditions for the hundreds of thousands of Darfuri refugees in Chad. For much of 2015 I reported, in a series of twenty-eight updates (http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Or/), based on Radio Dabanga, dispatches on conditions in both Darfur and eastern Chad. Previous dispatches from Radio Dabanga were also included as appropriate, especially for Chad. Herewith some examples, nowhere to be found in reporting by UNHCR or UN OCHA (Note: camp populations in eastern Chad are primarily women and children—well over 60 percent of the total population):
- Serious water shortage in eastern Chad camp; refugees facing threat of diseases as they use contaminated water from nearby valleys | (Radio Dabanga [Brejean, also Bredjing], August 9, 2012)
Nearly 45,000 Sudanese [Darfuri] refugees from the Brejean camp (eastern Chad) are suffering from acute water shortage after the water pump’s generator broke down, residents complained on Tuesday. This has resulted in refugees traveling to nearby valleys in search of water for drinking and domestic purposes. The water from the valleys is, however, not suitable for consumption. Refugees in the camp told Radio Dabanga that the water was contaminated by both human and animal waste and carcasses leading to the spread of waterborne diseases, especially among children.
- Food shortage in eastern Chad camp | (Radio Dabanga [Eastern Chad], August 22, 2012)
537 Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad’s Gaga camp have not received their food rations since last June, a sheikh in the camp told Radio Dabanga on Monday. Sheikh Mohammed Ismail said, “The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked the veteran refugees in the camp to share their food rations with the new arrivals until August, which should have been the next date for replenishing the food stocks.” However, the refugees were surprised when the UNHCR asked them to prolong that initiative until October. The decision was therefore vehemently rejected by the refugees. Sheikh Mohammed Ismail added, “The new arrivals were registered as refugees and must receive food on showing their food ration cards.”
- Shortages in Chad camps for Darfuri refugees | (Radio Dabanga. Eastern Chad [Farchana/Treguine camps], 26 November 26, 2013)
The Farchana refugee camp in eastern Chad is suffering from a severe shortage of medicines and medical staff. Mohamed Dafallah, the head of the camp, told Radio Dabanga that people being ill have to queue from the early morning until the evening to see the doctor at the camp health centre. “There is only one doctor for the population of the camp totalling more than 26,000 refugees. The suffering of the patients extends beyond seeing a doctor because they often do not get the medication prescribed as their conditions do not allow them to buy it at the pharmacy due to the high medicine prices.”
Treguine refugee camp
The Sudanese refugees of the Treguine camp in eastern Chad have renewed their demands to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the humanitarian organisations working in the field of water to provide them with potable water. Ali Yagoub, the head of the camp, told Radio Dabanga that until now they have been getting their water supply from traditional wells, due to the collapse of the only water well in the camp a year ago. The water from the traditional wells is unsafe for drinking.
Nothing is Changing
The problems reported earlier in the now long history of Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad are all too characteristic, despite up-beat notes from various UN organizations. The consensus among those in the humanitarian community is that in many ways conditions are deteriorating; and while stable compared with Darfur, violence in eastern Chad is a chronic problem for the refugees, if not on the same scale as was reported by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in 2005, 2006. The desperate privation experienced by Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad continues to this day; herewith a further but still only partial culling of articles from Radio Dabanga (more dispatches appear in APPENDIX B). The lack of remotely adequate food supplies is only the most conspicuous issues facing Darfur refugees:
- Homes devoured by flames in Darfur, eastern Chad | February 1, 2017 | ASSALAYA / GIREIDA / GOZ AMER | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/homes-devoured-by-flames-in-darfur-eastern-chad
On Saturday, four Darfuri families in Goz Amer refugee camp in eastern Chad lost their houses because of a fire. El Zein Mohamed, correspondent for Radio Dabanga in eastern Chad reported that the cause of the fire is still unknown.
[Camp materials are notoriously flimsy and subject to rapid degradation in the harsh climate of eastern Chad; arson is also a factor in many camp fires–ER]
In 2006, the UN refugee agency UNHCR moved more than 3,000 Chadian refugees from the Chad-Sudan border to two new refugee camps, Um Shalaya and Mukjar, in what was then West Darfur. In December 2013, Radio Dabanga reported that the 8,000 Chadian refugees in Um Shalaya refused to return to Chad, citing the lack of security, stability, services, and development as reasons. Their status as refugees in Sudan would officially end in January 2014.
- Darfuri refugees in Chad concerned about food rations, striking teachers | Radio Dabanga | November 17, 2016 | DJABAL REFUGEE CAMP | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfuri-refugees-in-chad-concerned-about-food-rations-striking-teachers
The residents of the Djabal refugee camp in eastern Chad have voiced concern about new UN World Food Programme (WPF) food distribution plans. The camp’s school teachers embarked on a strike on Sunday, in protest against the delayed payment of their salaries.
In a meeting with WFP representatives on Wednesday morning, camp leaders rejected the proposal of the UN food agency to received their food rations through coupons, with which they will be able to purchase food directly from traders in the area. “The WFP representatives said that it has become difficult to import food,” Radio Dabanga’s correspondent in eastern Chad reported.
The camp elders based their rejection on the inability of merchants to cover the food needs of the 27,000 Djabal camp refugees. “The lorries transporting basic goods face many challenges in reaching the camp and its neighbouring towns during the rainy season.”
The correspondent added that the school teachers in the refugee camp embarked on a strike on Sunday, in protest against the delayed payment of their salaries. “They have not received their salary of October so far,” he explained.” The students’ parents have expressed their concerns about their children’s classes, and urged the organisation responsible for education in the camp to pay the teachers as soon as possible.
The loss of educational opportunities for countless Darfuri refugees and displaced children has received far too little attention–particularly given the length of time the Darfur genocide has raged–ER]
- 35,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad in dire need | Radio Dabanga | May 4, 2016 | GOZ AMER CAMP | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/35-000-sudanese-refugees-in-chad-in-dire-need
The Sudanese refugees in Goz Amer camp in eastern Chad complain of a severe shortage of humanitarian aid, health services, and food. Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday, a number of refugees from the camp said that the health facilities of the camp, which accommodates more than 35,000 refugees, lack medicines and medical professionals to perform routine check-ups. They say that the refugees are forced to purchase medicines external pharmacies for high prices. They also complain that the monthly food rations have decreased, and of a shortage of drinking water.
In September 2015, the Sudanese Commissioner for Refugees’ Affairs, Hamad El Jezouli, announced the signing of a tripartite agreement between the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Sudan, and Chad to repatriate 300,000 Sudanese refugees and some 8,500 Chadian refugees to their respective countries within the framework of the voluntary repatriation programme.
However, the leaders of the refugees reject the repatriation programme. “The implementation of a repatriation programme requires a secure situation, based on a comprehensive peace agreement for the entire Sudan, as well as the provision of adequate services and infrastructure,” a refugee leader told Radio Dabanga following the announcement. “Further, the new settlers who have taken over our lands are to be evacuated and the refugees have to be compensated, individually and collectively.”
- Fire, hospital fees affect Darfuri refugees| February 28, 2016 | EASTERN CHAD CAMPS | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/fire-hospital-fees-affect-darfuri-refugees
Donors from the USA have visited one of the refugee camps in eastern Chad, where Sudanese refugees report they have to pay a fee in the health centre to receive treatment.
A large fire in another camp in eastern Chad has destroyed 30 homes, including food and belongings of the camp residents on Friday. A Radio Dabanga correspondent Dabanga reported that the now homeless refugees in Goz Amer camp have little food and no shelter. They asked the humanitarian organisations that are active in the area to help them.
Sudanese refugees in Jebel camp have complained about the fees for hospital patients that have been imposed by the Chadian authorities, in addition to the soaring prices of medicines in pharmacies. The same correspondent said that the fee amounts to 40 Chadian Riyals, the equivalent of SDG5, on patients in health centres. “The centre runs short of medicines, prompting patients to buy drugs from pharmacies in Goz Beida, which is two kilometres away from Jebel. The majority of refugees cannot afford these medicines, however.”
A delegation of donors from the USA visited Jebel camp to assess the humanitarian situation last week. “The Sudanese refugees explained to the delegates that the humanitarian situation in the camp is disastrous because the agricultural season largely failed last year,” the correspondent explained. They complained that the World Food Programme om the camp has classified the refugees into four categories for receiving aid. “This classification has kept the majority of refugees out from the monthly support.” The refugees requested the reconsideration of the classification and the provision of more food in the camp. In the past, refugees have complained about the late or suspended distribution of food by aid agencies. According to the UNHCR in 2015, more than 360,000 Sudanese live in at least 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad.
A week ago, an Independent Member of Parliament of Karnoi, Um Baru and El Tina localities, in North Darfur, reported the unprecedented large influx of more than 27,000 Darfuri refugees from Chad to Um Baru since 16 February. About 24,000 Sudanese already returned in December last year, mainly because of the Chadian government ultimatum for Sudanese refugees to either integrate into the camps or to return to Sudan. Aid agencies’ food ration cuts have affected daily life in the eastern Chadian camps and services are limited. Measures by the Chadian government push the refugees to become more self-sufficient, integrate in Chad, or return to Darfur.
[Recent years have seen tremendous suffering and privation and destruction among the Darfuri refugee population in eastern Chad–see APPENDIX B for dispatches going back several years—ER]
Given the acute shortage of food, especially during Ramadan, perhaps the most poignant reminder of the plight, and hope, of both Darfuri refugees and IDPs was reported only by Radio Dabanga in July 2015, using a figure of 400,000 for the number of Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad—a figure that may well have been—and may remain—more accurate than the figures promulgated by the UNHCR:
- Eid El Fitr: messages from Sudanese refugees and displaced | Radio Dabanga | July 17, 2015 | Chad / Darfur | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/eid-al-fitr-messages-from-sudanese-refugees-and-displaced
Sudanese living in camps for refugees in eastern Chad and displaced persons in Darfur send out their messages and wishes on occasion of Eid El Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Refugees in eastern Chad hope Darfur will be “freed from violence and other heinous crimes,” and that the region will see stability again as other “Muslim countries” do. Zein Mohamed Ahmed, an activist living in camp Djabal, said refugees still remember celebrating Eid El Fitr in their own country and hope they are able to do that again soon. He said the 400,000 Sudanese refugees living in 13 camps in eastern Chad, face daily hardships due to the bad humanitarian conditions in these sites.
That the international community is unwilling to do more to honor and sustain the hopes of these people is a grim extension of the indifference shown to the more than 2.7 million people who remain internally displaced in Darfur itself.
APPENDIX A: Figures for Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad
2010 and prior:
A suspiciously static figure of 262,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad was used by UNCHR and other UN organizations in 2010 and earlier, going back to the initial years of the genocidal onslaught.
May 13, 2011 Amnesty International: Annual Report 2011 – Chad | http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dce15779.html
The security situation remained volatile in the east. More than 262,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur were living in 12 refugee camps… In May, at least 5,000 new refugees arrived following fighting in Darfur.
“UNHCR confirms no refugees have returned to Darfur from Chad” | Radio Dabanga | April 2, 2012 | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/unhcr-confirms-no-refugees-have-returned-to-darfur-from-chad
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has confirmed that no refugees repatriated to Darfur from Chad, as suggested by the New York Times. UNHCR Chad representative Jean Bosco spoke to Radio Dabanga
[The New York Times dispatch from Nyuru, West Darfur was a journalistic travesty, grossly misrepresenting conditions in Darfur and eastern Chad | see http://wp.me/s45rOG-7553 ]
We are happy to interview you today at Radio Dabanga. Firstly, we would like to know: How many Sudanese are registered as refugees in Chad?
“For the time being we have 282,743.”
Did any voluntary repatriation take place ever?
“So far no repatriation took place from the Sudanese refugee camps in Chad.”
In the last year, 2012, did there happen any repatriation?
“No, last year, nobody repatriated from the refugee camps.”
“Submission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Compilation Report – Universal Periodic Review: CHAD,” March 2013:
This UNHCR report offers a figure of 311,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad | | http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/514ac48c2.pdf
Notably, this figure could not take account of the large “surge” in refugees reported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) the following month; MSF reported from Tissi, eastern Chad (April 26, 2013): “Violent clashes in Sudan’s Darfur region have driven approximately 50,000 people across the border into southeastern Chad since early March .” (https://www.msfindia.in/chad-urgent-need-aid-50000-displaced-darfur-violence/)
330,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad was the consensus figure in 2013 after the violence in Darfur was fully account for.
At a link now dead, UNHCR gave a figure of 380,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad[Dead link: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e45c226.html ]
See for a discussion of this figure, see my account of a year ago: “How Many Refugees in Chad?” August 9, 2016 | http://sudanreeves.org/2016/08/09/how-many-refugees-in-chad-august-2016/
Email communication between this writer and UNHCR officials in Chad (April 29 – 30, 2016) yielded a UNHCR assertion that there were 302,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad.
Sudan Tribune reports in a June 2, 2017 dispatch that “More than 350,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur region are officially registered in Chad” | http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62624/.
The UN continues to use the figures in the range of 318,473; see for example, “Sudan: Darfur Overview,” July 1, 2017 | http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Darfur_Humanitarian_Overview_A3_01_Jul_2017.pdf/.
Given past UN misrepresentations of figures for Darfuri displaced persons and refugees—always figures that must be corrected upwards—theirs must be regarded as a minimum number for Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad, with the possibility that the actual number is very considerably higher. This is especially true given typical registration methods used by UNHCR, UN World Food Program, and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs—and past tendentious misrepresentations from senior officials such as Georg Charpentier: see in particular “How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?” Dissent Magazine, April 28, 2011 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-Bq/.
APPENDIX B: Dispatches from Radio Dabanga concerning conditions for Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad
- Food rations for Darfuri refugees in Chad “may be cut next year’\” | Radio Dabanga | August 2, 2015 | EASTERN CHAD | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/food-rations-for-darfuri-refugees-in-chad-may-be-cut-next-year
Darfuris living in the 14 refugee camps in eastern Chad will probably not receive food rations in 2016. Representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told leaders of the refugee camps last week that the distribution of the monthly food rations may end in January, because of a lack of funds. A Radio Dabanga correspondent in Djabal refugee camp reported that the camp leaders were told to prepare the people early for the expected halt in distribution. He said that the refugees are already living in a difficult situation, as the rations were reduced last year. “A large number of children left school this year because of these ration cuts, as they had to search for work to provide some extra income,” he explained.
“As many children work with their parents on farms, they are not able to return to the camp to go to school.”
- Food delayed in Bredjing Camp for Darfur in East Chad | Radio Dabanga | June 19, 2015 | BREJING | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/food-delayed-in-bredjing-camp-for-darfur-in-east-chad
The Sudanese refugees in the camps of eastern Chad are complaining about the reduction of food rations, high food prices and consumer goods at the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
The Vice President of Bredjing Camp And Secretary of Women Affairs, Hawa Bakhit Adam, told Radio Dabanga that the food rations provided by UN agencies have been reduced to one plate of grain, approx. 2,5 kg of lentils per month. That is in total less than a pound of food products per person in a month, She said, there is also a delay in food rations distribution dates.
The international NGOs and UN have adopted a policy to make the semi permanent refugee population less dependent from food aid. The organizations do also face funding constraints. Many men are working or living outside the camps and working in goldmines or elsewhere.
- Sudan, Chad agree on voluntary return for refugees| Radio Dabanga | June 1, 2017 | KHARTOUM | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-chad-agree-on-voluntary-return-for-refugees
The Governments of Sudan and Chad have signed three bilateral agreements for the voluntary return of refugees from the two countries.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga following a visit by a delegation from the US Embassy in Sudan to the Um Shalaya refugee camp in Azum in April this year, the head of the camp said that the refugees reject voluntary return to Chad due to a lack of security and development in the areas of their origin. People in eastern Chad fled their villages in 2005 and 2006, after Darfuri militiamen intruded into the region, following the Darfuri population fleeing to Chad. The militiamen began to attack the local population, and the attacks soon became common. Thousands of Chadians sought refuge in Darfur.
[All too often camp leaders are simply left out of deliberations about the future of Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad–ER]
- Food distribution delayed for Darfuri refugees in Chad camp | Radio Dabanga | March 16, 2014 | CHAD / GAGA CAMP
The refugees of Gaga camp in eastern Chad are suffering from a severe shortage of food, owing to the delay of the food rations’ distribution, and the reduction of the rations since early 2014. “The camp residents are facing hunger because of the delay in the distribution of food rations,” Yasin Abdel Karim, an activist at Gaga refugee camp, told Radio Dabanga. “So far we have not received rations in March. This is serious as the food rations provided by the World Food Programme already were reduced since the start of this year. A sack of sorghum is now supposed to feed 12 people instead of four, like last year.” Abdel Karim appealed to “the organisations working in the field of food and the donors to reverse the reduction of the food rations and distribute the aid on time, in order to prevent the dire humanitarian conditions in which we are now living.”
Disease kills 21 Darfuri children in Chad | Radio Dabanga | March 30, 2015 | EASTERN CHAD | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/disease-kills-21-darfuri-children-in-chad
At least 21 children in the Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad died of a mysterious disease last week. The head of Iridimi refugee camp, near the West Darfur border, told Radio Dabanga that 15 children died of a disease causing fever, vomiting, and breathing difficulties. In Touloum refugee camp, six children died of the same symptoms, camp head Haidar Gardia reported. Both camp leaders requested the UN Refugees agency, UNHCR, to dispatch a medical team to the camps in eastern Chad, and contain the disease “before it kills more children.”
- Darfur refugees in Chad destitute | Radio Dabanga | March 19, 2014 | CHAD / KOUNONGOU CAMP | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-refugees-in-chad-destitute
The Sudanese refugees of the Kounongou camp in eastern Chad complain about the reduction of food rations and the prices of medicines. “The World Food Programme reduced the ration three months ago. Now 12 people, instead of four, have to make do with a sack of 50kg per month,” Adam Mohamed, one of the sheikhs of Kounongou camp told Radio Dabanga.
“Another problem we are facing is the lack of medicines at the health centre of the camp. The staff prescribes medicines that we have to buy from commercial pharmacies.” The camp sheikh explained that the refugees do not have any source of income to buy food and medicines, calling upon humanitarian organisations to help finding a solution for the crisis.
[If there are victims of the Darfur genocide more invisible than the refugees of eastern Chad, Darfuri refugees in Central African Republic must be the only candidates—ER]
- Darfuri refugees in CAR and Chad in dire need | Radio Dabanga | February 25, 2014 | BEMBERE / TOULOUM | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfuri-refugees-in-car-and-chad-in-dire-need
The refugees of the Bembere camp in the Central African Republic (CAR) are living in extremely difficult humanitarian, health, and security conditions. Since relief organisations have left because of the insecurity in the country, the Bembere refugees are suffering from a shortage of food and medicines. Abdel Rahman Ismail, the head of the Bembere camp, told Radio Dabanga that the organisations working in the camp left when the armed conflict erupted in the country. “We have not received aid or food for more than two months. And we cannot leave the camp anymore because of the rampant insecurity.” He demanded via Radio Dabanga for the UNHCR to intervene “as soon as possible,” and provide food and medicines to the camp residents, and move them to another country.
The refugees of the Touloum, Ardemi, and Um Nabag refugee camps in eastern Chad have complained of poor health services at the medical centres of the camps and a shortage of medicines. Speaking to Radio Dabanaga, the head of Touloum camp, Haidar Suleiman Gadria, said that the refugees of Touloum, Ardemi, and Um Nabag camps are suffering from a lack of medicines. They cannot afford to buy medicines from the regular pharmacies. There is also a shortage of health personnel, especially midwives. The work of the national health organisation working in the camps is limited to the camps only. When refugees are transferred to a hospital in Abéché, they find difficulty in registering at the reception, seeing doctors, or receiving treatment.
- Sudanese refugees in CAR need aid, food | Radio Dabanga | January 16, 2014 | BEMBERE / TOULOUM | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudanese-refugees-in-car-need-aid-food
Around 2,200 Sudanese refugees from Darfur at camp Bembere in the Central African Republic (CAR) are living in “extremely difficult humanitarian conditions” after aid organisations left owing to the violence in the country. The sheikh of the Bembere camp for Sudanese refugees in the CAR, Abdel Rahman Ismail, told Radio Dabanga that all the food, health and education organisations have left the camp since the beginning of the incidents in the CAR. He pointed out that they have not received food or health services since a month. He added that all Bembere residents have left the area, leaving behind only the around 2,200 Sudanese refugees. Ismail again appealed via Radio Dabanga to the UN and the humanitarian organisations to move them from the fighting between Muslims and Christians in the CAR.
- Sudanese refugees face starvation in Chad camps | Radio Dabanga | January 30, 2014 | CHAD / KOUNONGOU CAMP | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudanese-refugees-face-starvation-in-chad-camps
Sudanese refugees in the camps of eastern Chad say that their overall situation is deteriorating rapidly after the reduction in food rations, health and educational services, by international relief organisations. Sheikh Eisa Tijani, the head of the Kounongou camp, told Radio Dabanga that international organisations’ decision to reduce the budget since the beginning of this year will lead to starvation. He described the arguments for the reduction as “flimsy.” “They told us that donors have failed to pay and that other conflict zones emerged in the world.” He called the budget cuts “inhumane,” “considering that the world and its institutions are fully aware of the reasons that forced us to flee from our homes. We get the idea that the whole world is fighting us in the same way as Omar Al Bashir.”
- Darfur refugees in eastern Chad close to starving | Radio Dabanga | July 23, 2014 | EASTERN CHAD | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-refugees-in-eastern-chad-close-to-starving
Soaring prices and the reduction of food rations have forced a number of Darfuri refugees in the eastern Chad camps to break the fast with bread made of toxic mekheit seeds, and to dig into ant hills in search for food. The refugees in eastern Chad are facing extremely difficult humanitarian conditions, Ali Yagoub, the head of the Treguine refugee camp told Radio Dabanga. “The people in the camps are almost starving, as the current food ration contains a little sugar, vegetable oil, and 15 grams of sorghum per capita a day. Flour, salt, and soap have been cut. Because the people do not find work to earn some income, they are forced to dig into ant hills in search of food, and resort to making bread from the toxic mekheit seeds. The camp head appealed to the World Food Programme to speed up the provision of food.
850 kilocalories a day
On 1 July, the heads of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, urgently appealed for extra funding. In a joint press release, they warned that funding difficulties, compounded by security and logistical problems in some countries, have forced cuts in food rations for nearly 800,000 refugees in Africa. In the press release, the two UN agencies state that the refugees in Chad are facing the severest food cuts. “Some 300,000 refugees in Chad, primarily from Sudan’s Darfur region in the east and from the Central African Republic in the south, are among the worst affected by the cuts. Food distributions there have been slashed by up to 60 percent, leaving refugees with a scant 850 kilocalories per day. In the south of Chad, some refugees are able to grow food on small plots provided by the government. In the arid east, however, that is not an option for most refugees. Nor is it a viable solution for newly arriving refugees.” Generally, the WFP tries to provide 2,100 kilocalories per refugee a day.
- Hungry Darfuri refugees eat toxic seeds | Radio Dabanga | July 2, 2014 | EASTERN CHAD | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/hungry-darfuri-refugees-eat-toxic-seeds
The Darfuri refugees in the 12 eastern Chad camps are suffering from an acute shortage of food. “The suffering has worsened with the start of the fasting month of Ramadan,” Jamal Daoud, the head of the Bredjing refugee camp told Radio Dabanga. “The World Food Programme (WFP) brought back the food rations to three items only: sorghum, beans, and oil. The amounts were reduced too. We now receive 4 kg of sorghum per capita a month, instead of 12 kg.”
- Darfur refugees in Chad’s Farchana camp eating grass | Radio Dabanga | April 29, 2014 | EASTERN CHAD | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/darfur-refugees-in-chad-s-farchana-camp-eating-grass
Darfuris in the eastern Chad refugee camps are on the brink of starvation after food rations were reduced in December last year. Darfuri refugees in South Sudan’s Western Bahr El Ghazal state, are also living in poor humanitarian conditions. “The Gaga, Farchana, Treguine, Bredjing, and Touloum refugee camps are witnessing a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation owing to the reduction of food rations,” Haider Suleiman Gadiria, the head of the Tuloum camp reported to Radio Dabanga. “The World Food Programme reduced the rations of sorghum and sugar for the refugees in eastern Chad camps by 50 percent since December last year. In April this year the distribution of salt and a mixture of soap was stopped.”
The head of the Farchana camp, Mohamed Dafallah told Radio Dabanga that the camp population has reached the brink of starvation. “They are now eating grass, and digging in ants’ hills in search of food.” He noted that the reduced food rations are sufficient for one week. “The situation in the camps is nearing a humanitarian disaster.” The camp head demanded from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme to “undo this policy, and provide adequate nutritional support for the refugees.”
Refugees in Chad face the most severe food cuts of all displaced and refugees in Africa, UNHCR and WFP reported in a joint press release on Tuesday. “Some 300,000 refugees in Chad, primarily from Sudan’s Darfur region in the east and from the Central African Republic in the south, are among the worst affected by the cuts. Food distributions there have been slashed by up to 60 percent, leaving refugees with a scant 850 kilocalories per day. In the south of Chad, some refugees are able to grow food on small plots provided by the government. In the arid east, however, that is not an option for most refugees.” The heads of the WFP and UNHCR stated that funding difficulties, compounded by security and logistical problems in some countries, have forced cuts in food rations for nearly 800,000 refugees in Africa. The cuts may worsen the already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, particularly in children.
- WFP stops food rations for Gaga refugee camp in Chad: Sheikh | Radio Dabanga January 22, 2014 | CHAD / GAGA CAMP | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/wfp-stops-food-rations-for-gaga-refugee-camp-in-chad-sheikh
The refugees of the Gaga refugee camp in eastern Chad will not receive food rations in 2014.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, sheikh Juma reported that the 23,200 Darfuri refugees residing in the camp received reduced food rations from the World Food Programme (WFP) in December and January. Representatives of the WFP told the refugees that there is no budget for food rations for the year 2014. The refugees received rations of sorghum, sugar, beans, and oil, all reduced by 75 percent, in December and by 50 percent in January. These rations, paid from WFP’s 2013 budget, were the last ones for the camp. Sheikh Juma referred to “the widows, the elderly and the weak, who will suffer severely from this problem”, and called on the WFP to resume the distribution of food rations as in the past, “by 100 percent.”
- No food for new Darfuri refugees in Chad | Radio Dabanga | February 4, 2014 | TOULOUM camp, eastern Chad | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/no-food-for-new-darfuri-refugees-in-chad
Some 135 families from North Darfur who reached the Touloum refugee camp in eastern Chad in September last year do not have access to food. Ahmed Abakar Shatta, the coordinator of new refugees at the Touloum refugee camp told Radio Dabanga that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Chad National Committee for the Reception of Refugees on Monday distributed sheets, blankets, and mattresses, household utensils, and mosquito nets. The families also received refugee identity cards. However the families, originally from El Sareif Beni Hussein, did not receive food. The coordinator described their situation as “extremely bad”. “They have to go around in the camp begging for food.” He appealed to UNHCR and the Chad National Committee to promptly provide food for the new refugees.
Eric Reeves is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.