CHAD: Mounting rebel fronts hamper aid efforts

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fighting is breaking out in so many parts of eastern Chad that aid workers say they can’t even keep count.

“So many groups are involved now, it’s impossible to know who is who,” said one humanitarian official. “I don’t even care about who they all are and what their names are. All I know is that they are threatening our ability to operate,” the aid worker said.

Humanitarian agencies such as the UN World Food Programme are working to provide for the basic needs of more than 500,000 people in the area.

“WFP is concerned about the deteriorating situation in eastern Chad,” WFP spokesperson Stephanie Savariaud told IRIN on 7 December. Conditions have led the agency to slow down its deliveries of food aid to refugees and displaced persons in the region, she said.

WFP gives monthly food rations to over 230,000 people who fled Darfur, as well as nearly 150,000 displaced Chadians. The organisation also helps up to 150,000 local residents affected by conflict.

Savariaud said that in Djabal food distributions were suspended for one day due to security concerns following reports of rebel movements in the area. She said disruptions in food supplies will mean a temporary reduction in rations for some.

And a 7 December WFP statement said fighting near Farchana, where three refugee camps are located, has made aid operations particularly difficult.

One sign of the intensity of the fighting is that seriously wounded troops are arriving every day in the capital, N’djamena, according to medical staff there.

The current round of fighting started in late November when the rebel Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, or UFDD, crossed the border from Sudan breaking a peace agreement signed in October. A few days later the Rally of the Forces for Change, or RFC, launched a second front.

Then former members of the United Front for Change known as FUC – who had joined the Chadian army following a 2006 peace agreement – defected and have now reportedly joined attacks against government forces.

Later a third then a fourth rebel group mounted attacks on the army.

The most recent front is in Tissi in the far southeast at Chad’s borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic. A rebel group there has been battling the army and there have been reports that Chad’s regional army commander, General Abdoulaye Kebir, has been killed.

Source: IRIN