Chad: State of emergency ends but troubles continue

News and Press Release
Originally published
NDJAMENA, 25 May 2007 (IRIN) - Hundreds of thousands of Chadians continue to live in displaced camps because of violence in the east and banditry remains rampant in and around the capital N'djamena, yet the Chadian government on Friday said it will lift a six-month old state of emergency order.

"The situation in the east is almost resolved," government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor told IRIN on Friday. "There are now troops reinforcing the conflict zones and local communities are starting to live together peacefully again."

Yet for humanitarian workers, the east remains an area of grave concern with the possibility of various types of armed conflict breaking out at any moment.

"The fact is that most of the displaced people in the east still do not feel protected and are not safe to go back to the areas they came from," Daniel Augstburger, senior emergency officer for the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs said.

The state of emergency order, which gave the government powers to ban public meetings, censor the press and arrest people without charge, was imposed at a time of frequent attacks by anti-government rebels.

Those attacks were widely seen as separate from a spate of attacks across the unprotected border with Sudan by armed militias, who attacked civilians and looted villages, and a third inter-communal dynamic also playing out in the east between different Chadian ethnic groups.

Over 140,000 Chadians have fled their homes in the last two years, mostly because of the inter-communal and militia attacks.

The Chadian government has so far refused to allow the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation of up to 11,000 soldiers and police in Chad recommended in February by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Recently, humanitarian workers have come under attack in the east. Foreigners have also been attacked in N'djamena with many neighbourhoods becoming "no-go" areas.