David Buchbinder, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, has made numerous trips to investigate the refugee camps that dot the border between Chad and Sudan. He recently sat down with Jerry Fowler of the Committee on Conscience and shared his observations.
Cross border attacks into Chad continue.
This pattern continues to show signs of ethnically based violence.
Approximately 300 civilians killed.
There is a pattern of violence developing within Chad currently.
Chadian rebels continue to use Darfur as a staging area for attacks against the Chadian government.
Non-Arabs are beginning to arm themselves and creating self defense groups.
Often times, Arabs are identified with the Janjaweed even if they’re not supporters of ethnic strife.
Non-Arab self defense forces are beginning to attack Arab civilians in the local villages.
Lack of security continues to hamper aid missions.
Buchbinder also discussed the possibility of UN peacekeeping forces being dispatched to Chad to protect the refugees. He pointed out that there were three major obstacles to this idea:
Chad needs to give its consent and hasn’t because they’re concerned it would be a stepping stone into Sudan, which would increase their tension with Khartoum.
The UN is nervous about entering a situation where an ongoing conflict (between Chad, sponsored by the French government, is battling an armed rebellion) is continuing and there’s no real sign that steps are being taken for a peaceful solution.
The question of who would contribute to a peacekeeping force is of great concern.
It seems to me that the patterns Buchbinder is seeing are fairly similar to the original outbreak of violence in Darfur in the late 1990s. The government began to arm militia in order to solidify its power with the Arab amirs and the non-Arab villagers began to form themselves into rebel groups in order to keep from being overrun.
If you have a chance, I recommend you listen to Buchbinder’s interview as well as the more recent podcasts from Voices on Genocide Prevention.