Recurrent clashes between the Chadian army and armed opposition groups throughout this year, the most notable of which was an unsuccessful rebel assault on N'Djamena on April 13, culminated in an attack on Abéché by the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) on 24 November.
This latest outbreak of violence has left many dead and wounded and caused displacement of the local population along the Sudanese border. Many war-wounded are being treated in Abéché or have been transferred to N'Djamena, and more are expected to arrive at the hospitals in the coming days. Members of the various rebel forces involved have been detained.
Following battles in Abéché, Guéréda, Biltine and Arada, the streets are reported to be strewn with unexploded ordnance. Travel between Biltine and Arada is now said to be dangerous as the road between these two towns has been particularly affected.
As one of the few organizations present on the ground, the ICRC has strengthened its presence in eastern Chad so as to be ready to provide assistance and protection to the war-wounded, people deprived of their liberty, people hors combat, and civilians affected by the conflict.
The ICRC keeps up regular contacts with all the parties to the conflict in order to explain its work and the nature of its operations. Moreover, it is working closely with the Red Cross of Chad (RCC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies as well as other humanitarian organizations.
The ICRC currently has 21 delegates and close to 100 Chadian employees present permanently or temporarily in Abéché, Iriba, Goz Beida, Biltine, Bahai, Adré and Dogdore.
Abéché: The fighting on 24 November mostly took place outside Abéché, where the ICRC has a sub-delegation. The UFDD occupied the town for 24 hours and then withdrew, letting the Chadian army retake the town without resistance. A few civilian casualties were reported, some of them struck by stray bullets.
During these hours of instability, the military garrison, government buildings, official residences, and WFP (World Food Programme) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) warehouses were looted. The prison was abandoned and the detainees were able to escape.
Biltine: On 24 and 25 November, the Rally of Democratic Forces (RAFD) occupied the town and surrounding area. There followed a period of instability marked by banditry, looting and ransacking. The local hospital was spared but medical supplies ran short.
Between 7 and 9 December renewed fighting was reported between UFDD and government forces in the vicinity of Biltine.
Guéréda: On 1 December, the RAFD attacked the town of Guéréda, 160 km northeast of Abéché. They withdrew shortly afterwards but both rebel and government forces remained in the vicinity. The situation at the moment is tense but calm. On 11 and 12 December further heavy fighting was reported from the whole region.
Abéché: On 4 December, two weeks after the short outbreak of fighting in Abéché, the ICRC sent a three-member surgical team to the Abéché hospital to help with the treatment of war-wounded civilians and fighters following continued fighting in the region.
Since the prevailing climate of insecurity has caused many medical staff to leave the town, ICRC staff are also treating urgent medical cases not related to the conflict.
Biltine: The ICRC was the first organization to reach the town on 6 December. It provided the local hospital with first-aid kits and essential medicines; it also evacuated four war-wounded people to Abéché for treatment and has supported the RCC with material for recovery of the dead.
Arada: On 11 December the ICRC evacuated 15 war-wounded to the hospital in Abéché; it also provided medical assistance to enable the hospital to treat the many patients suffering from weapon-inflicted wounds.
BP5 high-energy rations donated by UNICEF were distributed by the ICRC to people suffering from war wounds who had been without food for several days.
In the past two weeks the ICRC has:
- Evacuated over 75 war-wounded from the battle zones of Biltine and Arada to the Abéché hospital.
- Arranged for its surgical team based in the Abéché hospital to operate on some 52 severely injured Chadian soldiers, opposition fighters and civilians.
- Operated on 64 people suffering from war wounds, transferred from Abéché to the Hôpital Liberté in N'Djamena, since 7 December.
- Provided first-aid to 54 wounded people in Biltine.
Protection / Detention
- Maintained close contact with the local authorities to ensure the protection of wounded fighters at the hospital in Abéché.
- Visited and registered detainees arrested in connection with the events of 25 November being held in three different places of detention in Abéché.
- Registered 31 detainees and wounded people in Biltine who were being transferred to Abéché.
- Maintained close contacts with the authorities in N'Djamena concerning the detention of opposition fighters captured over the past several weeks.
Cooperation with Movement partners
- Coordinated closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Red Cross of Chad (RCC) to carry out relief activities.
- Distributed food through RCC volunteers to the war-wounded in the Abéché hospital.
- Supported the crucial work of RCC volunteers in evacuating the wounded and recovering and identifying the dead following the fighting in Abéché and Biltine.
- Supported the presence of twelve RCC first-aid volunteers in the Abéché hospital in order to guarantee a 24-hour service.
- Provided the hospital in Biltine, the health post in Arada and the Chadian military medical outpost with first-aid and dispensary kits for some 140 patients.
For further information, please contact:
Anahita Kar, ICRC N'Djamena, tel. +235
6 201 005
Marco Yuri Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 3217