22 June 2011 |

Improvements in security allow for the return of some IDPs

As of June 2011, there were 131,000 IDPs living in 38 IDP camps in eastern Chad. The majority of them had limited access to livelihoods and continued to rely on protection and assistance from international humanitarian organisations. No new internal displacements were reported in 2010 or in the first five months of 2011.

After the withdrawal of UN peacekeeping troops in December 2010, the Chadian government took responsibility for the protection of civilians in conflict-affected areas. It normalised relations with the government of Sudan and established with Sudan a joint military force to patrol and monitor their shared border. The joint border force has been credited with improving security in some areas.

However, the UN Secretary-General has advised the Security Council to remain vigilant, as the capacity of the UN to monitor and report on attacks against civilians has been severely reduced after the withdrawal of UN troops. Meanwhile, regional developments including the war in Libya, the deterioration of security in north-east CAR, and the ongoing conflict in Sudan could have a negative impact on security in Chad.

Since 2008, around 55,000 IDPs have returned to their villages of origin. UNHCR started facilitating returns in May 2011 and had conducted a total of 12 return convoys by early June. Chadian government representatives stated their commitment to create the necessary conditions for return, local integration, or settlement elsewhere in the country of IDPs, so that internal displacement could end by December 2011. Nonetheless, return is not yet a viable option for the majority of IDPs in eastern Chad, due to the fragile security conditions, the limited presence of local authorities, and the lack of basic social services in areas of return.

Approximately 30 per cent of IDPs are children between the ages of six and 12. Children in IDP camps have had limited access to primary education and no chance of further schooling. In 2010, the government made efforts to address the recruitment of children by the national army and continued to transfer children associated with returning rebel groups to UNICEF for reintegration and rehabilitation. However, all parties to conflict in eastern Chad have reportedly continued to recruit and use children. 

Background and causes of displacement 

Political and socio-economic context

Of the 11.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Africa, three million live in the regional “conflict triangle” of eastern Chad, Darfur (Sudan), and northern Central African Republic (CAR). The area has been affected by inter-related armed conflicts, high levels of insecurity despite the presence of international peacekeeping troops, widespread availability of small arms, and forced displacement within and across borders. In 2010, Chad, Sudan and CAR were listed in the Failed States Index among the world’s ten most failed states, with Chad at number two after Somalia (Fund for Peace, 21 June 2010). 

Despite being an oil-producing country, Chad ranked 163rd out of 169 countries in the 2010 Human Development Index (UNDP, November 2010). It also ranked 133rd out of 134 countries in the 2010 Global Gender Gap Report (World Economic Forum, 2010), an assessment of how well countries divide resources and opportunities between their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of those resources and opportunities. Chad’s ranking means it had the second highest rate of measured gender inequality in the world after Yemen.

With a view to reducing poverty in Chad and improving governance through the best possible use of oil revenues, the World Bank financed the building of an oil pipeline from Chad to the Cameroonian port of Kribi (WBG, 20 November 2009). However, in the seven years after the pipeline became operational, the government used its increased oil revenues to buy weapons with which to fight insurgent groups, instead of investing in social services in areas of return, reducing poverty and improving governance, all of which are essential components for protecting and assisting IDPs and achieving durable solutions. On the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which measures the delivery of public goods and services by government and non-state actors, Chad ranked 52nd out of 53, as the second worst-governed country in Africa after Somalia (Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 11 October 2010). 

Proxy war between Chad and Sudan

In 2004, the war in neighbouring Darfur caused an influx of 270,000 refugees into eastern Chad. It also brought into Chad Darfuri rebels from the same Zaghawa ethnic group as Chad’s President Idriss Déby. His willingness to let them operate from bases inside Chad spurred the government of Sudan to allow Chadian rebels to operate from within Darfur. The two governments waged a proxy war in which these groups carried out the actual fighting (Small Arms Survey, March 2011).

Internal armed conflict in Chad

With these tensions as a backdrop, internal armed conflict erupted in Chad in 2006 after Déby changed the constitution in order to run for a third term. Chadian rebels based in Darfur accused him of limiting government and military posts to members of his minority ethnic group, and using oil revenues to bolster the armed forces instead of investing in social services and infrastructure (ICG, 26 August 2009). Déby was re-elected in 2006, but the political opposition, which had never accepted the legitimacy of his initial seizure of power in a 1990 coup d’état, boycotted the election. From 2006 until 2010, attempted coups and repeated clashes between Chadian armed forces and rebel groups highlighted the failure of efforts to consolidate peace in Chad.

Inter-ethnic violence and attacks by criminal gangs against civilians

In addition to armed conflict, inter-ethnic violence over land and natural resources, and attacks by bandits against civilians, also caused internal displacement in eastern Chad. Sudanese Janjaweed militias carried out cross-border raids against Chadian villages in 2006 and 2007, exploiting long-standing land disputes among ethnic groups. They perpetrated human rights abuses including massacres, rape, looting and burning of villages, and were referenced as the primary cause of displacement (HRW, June 2009).

While inter-ethnic violence decreased considerably after 2007, it was replaced by widespread attacks against civilians, including IDPs, refugees and humanitarian workers, perpetrated by bandits and criminal gangs known as “coupeurs de route” who acted with total impunity. These criminal attacks multiplied despite the presence of international peacekeeping troops and Chadian police units tasked with protecting civilians.

Peacekeeping operations

MINURCAT, the UN Mission in CAR and Chad, was established in 2007 to improve Chad’s justice system and monitor the human rights situation, and MINURCAT troops were deployed to protect Chadian IDPs and Sudanese refugees, safeguard humanitarian operations, and help restore stability. MINURCAT was also commissioned to train a specialised Chadian police force, known as the Détachement intégré de sécurité or DIS, to provide security in IDP and refugee camps and to patrol main towns in eastern Chad. At the request of the Chadian government, and in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1923, MINURCAT withdrew from Chad in December 2010.

Improved security situation

After requesting the withdrawal of MINURCAT, the Chadian government pledged to take responsibility for the protection of civilians in eastern Chad (ISN, 18 May 2010). It signed an agreement with the government of Sudan to normalise relations between the two countries by establishing a joint military force to patrol and monitor their shared border and by ending the support of each other’s armed opposition groups in their respective territories (NOREF, 15 April 2011). The joint border force has been considered effective by outside observers, with command authority alternating every six months between Chad and Sudan (USDoS, 8 April 2011). The joint border force has positively affected the improvement of security in some areas of eastern Chad and has provided support, along with the UN, to the DIS, which has increased from 850 to 1,000 the number of its officers providing security in and around camps for IDPs and refugees (OCHA, 16 February 2011).

However, in his April 2011 report to the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General advised the Council to remain vigilant about the protection of civilians in Chad. He reported that rebel groups that had not demobilised continued to pose a potential threat, and that while there had been a decline in attacks by criminal gangs, violence by these groups was still a threat in many parts of Chad, including the east and the south of the country. Furthermore, the capacity of the UN to monitor and report on attacks against civilians had been severely reduced after the withdrawal of MINURCAT. The Secretary-General noted that developments in neighbouring countries including the war in Libya, the deterioration of security in north-east CAR, and the ongoing conflict in Sudan gave cause for concern in this respect (UNSC, 29 April 2011).

Presidential elections were held in Chad in April 2011 and President Déby was re-elected for a fourth term in office, securing 89 per cent of the vote. The main opposition groups boycotted the election after their demands for electoral reforms were not met (BBC, 10 May 2011).

Latest displacement figures 

The highest number of IDPs reported to date by the UN was 185,000 in mid-2008 (OCHA, 9 June 2008). As of June 2011, there were 131,000 IDPs in eastern Chad (OCHA, 20 April-25 May 2011) living in 38 IDP camps (USDoS, 8 April 2011). The majority of them had limited access to livelihoods and continued to rely on protection and assistance from international humanitarian organisations (OCHA, 30 November 2010). No new internal displacements were reported in 2010 or in the first five months of 2011.

As of April 2011, Chad also hosted 264,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps along the eastern border with Sudan, and 64,000 Central African refugees in five camps along the southern border with CAR (UNSC, 29 April 2011). 

As of late May, the 2011 war in Libya had forced 60,000 Chadian migrants to return to Chad. Most of them were being assisted by the International Organisation for Migration, the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and partner NGOs including the International Rescue Committee (OCHA, 20 April- 25 May 2011).

The 2011 war in Libya has also had other adverse effects on people in eastern Chad: most fuel supplies for northern Chad and parts of eastern Chad had been shipped through Libya, and fuel prices rose in these areas after their access was blocked (FEWSNET, March 2011). The World Food Programme (WFP) was forced to close the logistics corridor from the port of Benghazi in Libya to Abéché in eastern Chad, through which it had transported food to more than one million Sudanese refugees, Chadian IDPs and Chadian host communities. WFP opened a new logistics corridor across Sudan, through Darfur, which represented a more costly and longer route for food distribution (WFP, 7 April 2011). Villages receiving Chadian migrants have been faced with the “double burden” of remittances from Libya being cut off and of their scarce resources being overstretched to accommodate returnees (IRIN, 25 May 2011).

Durable solutions and issues of return 

Since 2008, approximately 55,000 IDPs have returned to their villages of origin (OCHA, 20 April-25 May 2011). Due to improved security conditions in some areas of return, UNHCR started facilitating organised returns in May 2011 and conducted a total of 12 return convoys by early June. Returnees have received transport assistance in UNHCR-organised trucks and food rations from WFP, and have been allocated land for farming by local authorities (UNHCR, 6 June 2011). Intersos, an international humanitarian NGO, continues to conduct protection monitoring in areas of return, to provide reliable information to returnees on security, living conditions and gaps in social services. The protection monitoring programme includes training of local authorities in conflict resolution and human rights, to build their capacity to assist returnees (Intersos, 30 September 2010).

In March 2011, government representatives met UN officials, NGOs and donors in N’Djamena, the Chadian capital, on durable solutions for IDPs. The meeting was convened by CONSAHDIS, the government office now responsible for coordinating humanitarian activities and DIS operations. Chadian government representatives stated their commitment to create the necessary conditions for return, local integration, or settlement elsewhere in the country of IDPs, so that internal displacement could end by December 2011 (Government of Chad, 2 March 2011).

Despite these initiatives and despite the government’s announcement that displacement would be over by the end of 2011 (UN News Centre, 13 May 2011), return is not yet a viable option for the majority of IDPs in eastern Chad, many of whom cite as major obstacles the fragile security conditions in areas of return, the limited presence of local authorities, and the lack of basic social services in villages of origin (OCHA, 30 November 2010). In May 2011 there was still no government strategy on durable solutions or specifically on the allocation of financial and human resources to facilitate the return and reintegration of IDPs (UN News Centre, 13 May 2011).

Protection needs of internally displaced children 

The combined effects of drought, floods, food insecurity, and malnutrition crisis in 2009 and 2010 raised the number of vulnerable people in Chad from 500,000 to 2.5 million (OCHA, 30 November 2010). The 131,000 IDPs among them continue to depend on protection and assistance from the international community. 

While the priorities of the protection cluster for 2011 are to promote durable solutions for IDPs in the form of return, local integration or settlement elsewhere in the country, and to promote the development of a national legal and policy framework to protect IDPs (OCHA, January-March 2011), displaced children still have particular protection needs in eastern Chad that must be addressed.

Approximately 30 per cent of IDPs are school-age children between the ages of six and 12. Children in IDP camps have had limited access to primary education and no chance of further schooling. The main problems are the lack of qualified school teachers, adequate school infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, or mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on their educational needs (OCHA, 30 November 2010).

As required by Security Council Resolution 1612, the UN country team in Chad established a task force to monitor and report on grave violations committed against children in the context of armed conflict. The task force documented ongoing violations against children in eastern Chad in 2010, including the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups, the killing and maiming of children, particularly from unexploded ordnance, and sexual and gender-based violence (UNSC, 9 February 2011).

In 2010, the government made efforts to address the recruitment of children by the national army and continued to transfer children associated with returning rebel groups to UNICEF for reintegration and rehabilitation (USDoS, 8 April 2011). Chad has signed and ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), and is one of six African countries to have signed in June 2010 the N’Djamena Declaration, a binding legal document on ending the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups (HDPT, 14 June 2010). However the task force found that the Chadian national army had actively recruited children, including from IDP camps (UNSC, 9 February 2011).

In October 2010, despite similar findings of recruitment of children by Chadian armed forces published in the 2010 United States Department of State report on human trafficking, the US government issued a waiver to allow it to provide military aid to four countries that recruit child soldiers, including Chad, instead of applying sanctions and withdrawing military aid (New York Times, 28 October 2010).

In January 2011, an Amnesty International report on the human rights situation of children recruited by armed forces and groups in eastern Chad documented that all parties to conflict there were recruiting and using children, including community leaders from different ethnic groups who use children to participate in violent communal conflicts and unrest. The report highlights that the failure or lack of demobilisation programmes for children associated with armed groups and forces leaves them vulnerable to re-recruitment even after they return home, and that the lack of schools or jobs fail to offer alternative opportunities (AI, January 2011).

In June 2011, the government signed an action plan to end the use of children by the country’s security forces. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict has said that the plan of action reflects the commitment of the Chadian government to move forward in ending one of the key grave violations committed against children, but warned that the bulk of the work of protecting children lies ahead (IRIN, 14 June 2010).

National and international responses to internal displacement 

In 2007, the government of Chad established a national committee to assist IDPs, the Comité national d’assistance aux personnes déplacées or CNAPD. However it has limited resources and staff and has delivered only sporadic assistance. In 2008, the government also set up the CONAFIT committee to coordinate humanitarian activities with UN peacekeeping troops and humanitarian organisations working in Chad.

In October 2009, the African Union adopted the Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, the first legally binding regional instrument to protect the rights of IDPs. The Convention cannot enter into force until it is ratified by 15 African States. Chad has signed but not yet ratified the Convention.

Since the withdrawal of MINURCAT in December 2010, the Chadian government has established the CONSAHDIS office and the Bureau de sécurisation et des mouvements or BSM to create a security network to facilitate humanitarian operations in 12 locations (Gore, Abéché, Iriba, Farchana, Goz Beida, Koukou Angarana, Haraze, Maro, Daha, Am Timan, Bahaï and Guéréda). BSM meets on a weekly basis to evaluate the security situation and respond to requests for escorts by humanitarian organisations.

In May 2011, the presidents of CAR, Chad and Sudan signed an agreement for a joint mechanism to achieve security and stability and to strengthen economic ties between the neighbouring countries. Among the actions proposed within the agreement are the establishment of a tripartite advisory group on military and security issues, the dismantling of all obstacles obstructing cross-border trade between the three countries, and the construction of roads and establishment of new flight routes to connect them (Sudan Vision, 24 May 2011).

International response

The UN’s humanitarian response in eastern Chad is led by a Resident Coordinator / Humanitarian Coordinator who is also the UNDP Representative. More than 60 international humanitarian organisations provide assistance to displaced communities in eastern Chad, including IDPs and refugees from Darfur. The cluster system was introduced in Chad in 2007 to improve the protection and assistance of IDPs by humanitarian agencies. Thirteen clusters are now operational in Chad, including the protection cluster.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) has overall responsibility to coordinate the requests for funding of humanitarian organisations, through a consolidated appeal process (CAP). In June 2011, only 46 per cent of the $506 million requested for 2.2 million beneficiaries in the 2011 CAP had been funded. Sectors of assistance which are important for IDPs in general, and for displaced children in particular, remain underfunded in the 2011 CAP: the protection and education sectors were both only five per cent funded (OCHA, 8 June 2011). In 2010, of the $544 million requested in the 2010 CAP, these sectors were also the lowest funded by the end of the year, at 24 and 23 per cent respectively (OCHA, 9 June 2011). To address funding gaps, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $11.2 million to the 2011 CAP, making CERF the fourth largest responder after the US, the European Commission and Japan (CERF, 8 June 2011; OCHA, 9 June 2011).

Long-term economic development in eastern Chad would be an essential component of a strategy on durable solutions for IDPs. Such a strategy would require a commitment from the government and the humanitarian community to shift from relief efforts to recovery. To this end, the early recovery sector requested $8 million in the 2011 CAP. However, as of June 2011 it has yet to receive funding (OCHA, 8 June 2011).