Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad

Publisher Human Rights Watch
Publication Date 21 February 2006
Cite as Human Rights Watch, Darfur Bleeds: Recent Cross-Border Violence in Chad, 21 February 2006, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The crisis in Darfur, Sudan, which has been trickling into Chad for the better part of three years, is now bleeding freely across the border. A counterinsurgency carried out by the Sudanese government and its militias against rebel groups in Darfur, characterized by war crimes and "ethnic cleansing," has forcibly displaced almost two million civilians in Darfur and another 220,000 people who have fled across the border into Chad. The same ethnic "Janjaweed" militias that have committed systematic abuses in Darfur have staged cross-border raids into Chad, attacking Darfurian refugees and Chadian villagers alike, seizing their livestock and killing those who resist.

The government of Sudan is actively exporting the Darfur crisis to its neighbor by providing material support to Janjaweed militias and by failing to disarm or control them, by backing Chadian rebel groups that it allows to operate from bases in Darfur, and by deploying its own armed forces across the border into Chad.

For decades, both the Sudanese and Chadian governments have intermittently supported rebels active against the other along their common border (successive regime changes in Chad have been achieved this way). But attacks on Chadian civilians accelerated dramatically in the wake of a December 2005 assault on Adré, in eastern Chad, by Chadian rebels with bases in Darfur and supported by the government of Sudan. Although the Chadian rebels were not targeting Chadian civilians, the December attack, combined with a wave of Chadian military defections to Chadian rebel groups based in Darfur, had the consequence of prompting the Chadian army to redeploy its forces, leaving long stretches of the border with Sudan undefended. Janjaweed militias exploited this gap, staging raids into eastern Chad with increasing frequency and complete impunity.

The Janjaweed raiding parties have targeted villages in Chad and willfully killed Chadian civilians, in particular those from the Masalit and Dajo ethnic groups (non-Arab cross-border tribes that have also been the targets of Janjaweed attacks in Darfur). Due to the attacks in Chad, civilians have been forced from their homes, and their few possessions, mostly livestock, have been looted. People living along the Chad-Sudan border, already among the world's poorest, have little access to national or international humanitarian assistance.

On some occasions, the Janjaweed attacks appear to be coordinated with those of the Chadian rebels. On other occasions, Janjaweed militias have carried out attacks inside Chad accompanied by Sudanese army troops with helicopter gunship support.

This situation could have serious implications for the government of President Idriss Déby in Chad. The Sudanese government's actions – support of Chadian rebels and failure to restrain Janjaweed militias – exacerbate political instability within Chad, where the president's controversial run for a third term in May 2006 elections is taking place amid allegations of corruption in Chad's new but growing oil wealth. Regardless of whether President Deby stays in power or not, however, the ethnically-targeted attacks on the eastern border have killed dozens and forced thousands more Chadians into internal displacement in dire conditions since December. Even more Chadian civilians are at risk, as well as hundreds of thousands of Darfurian refugees living on the Chadian side of the border as the situation rapidly deteriorates.

For Darfur, what this situation could mean is that its conflict will become more difficult to resolve as more actors are drawn in from its unstable neighbor, with their own agendas. The Janjaweed, moving with Sudanese government help into Chad, will expand their power and resource base, and their alliance with Chadian rebels will strengthen both. Even more fighting in Darfur may result if a Chadian civil war is brought, once again, inside Darfur.

The governments of Chad and Sudan, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), and the international community must do more to bring security to the border region, prevent the expansion of ethnic cleansing into Chad, and protect Chadian civilians from attacks at the hands of the Sudanese government, Chadian rebels and Janjaweed militias. Individuals involved in the commission of war crimes and other criminal acts must be prosecuted – whether they are government officials, rebel military leaders, civilian leaders or Janjaweed.

This report is based on a Human Rights Watch research mission to eastern Chad in January-February 2006. In some cases the precise locations of incidents and other identifying details have been withheld to protect the safety of witnesses.


Chad and the Darfur conflict intertwined

Since February 2003, the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militia forces have carried out a devastating campaign of "ethnic cleansing" and war crimes against civilians sharing the ethnicity of two Darfur rebel movements, the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), drawn predominantly from the Zaghawa, Fur, and Masalit ethnic groups. Some 1,800,000 people have been internally displaced by the campaign and have lost their livelihoods and homes.1 Some 200,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur are living in camps set up in eastern Chad since late 2003 and another 20,000 Sudanese refugees are settled in communities along the Sudan border.2

Three years after the Darfur conflict began, it now threatens to engulf Chad. This is a country already wracked repeatedly by its own political and economic crises, and is developmentally one of the world's most impoverished.3

The Darfur conflict is intertwined with Chadian politics and with the unstable security situation along the 1,360-kilometer Chad-Sudan border. The border is straddled by numerous ethnic groups that are involved in the Darfur conflict either as supporters of one or other of the warring parties, or as their victims. Successive Chadian governments, including the incumbent Chadian president Idriss Déby, came to power by launching military campaigns from bases in Darfur, with the support or complicity of the Sudanese government.4 The Déby government is now in turn threatened by rebels with bases in Darfur (see below).

The government of Chad has several times during the Darfur conflict accused Sudan of harboring and supporting the Chadian rebels and sponsoring attacks on its territory, but relations were mended. The Sudanese government has responded with denials, and also accused Chad of intrusions into Sudan.5 In the sharpest break so far, Chad declared a "state of belligerence" with Sudan on December 23, 2005, and the two countries began massing troops on the border in late December and early January, seemingly tilting towards open war. Chad publicly opposed the Sudanese government's campaign for the presidency of the African Union on the basis that Sudan was promoting instability in the region; Sudan lost its bid at the African Union Summit held in Khartoum from January 23-24, 2006.6

High-level talks held in Libya resulted in an announcement of mended relations on February 8, 2006, and a pledge from both governments to end support to the respective opposition groups operating from both countries.7 Such accords have been reached before, however, have not been monitored independently, and have not held.

Chad's precarious internal political and security situation

Fifteen years after seizing power in a military coup, Déby maintains his grip on power with increasing difficulty. Déby, who is a member of the Bideyat clan of the Zaghawa, appointed trusted members of his Zaghawa tribe to positions in all levels of government, but he infuriated many within his circle by refusing to provide direct support for Sudanese Zaghawa rebels against the government of Sudan in Darfur. This refusal was one reason for a failed coup attempt (not the first) in May 2004,8 this time by members of Deby's own clan within the palace and the military. In June 2005 Déby further isolated himself by pushing constitutional changes through the legislature that will allow him to stand in 2006 for a third term in office.

Between October and December 2005, members of the Chadian armed forces (including the presidential guard), and even members of Déby's own family, left his side to join armed Chadian opposition groups in eastern Chad and Darfur.9 Many observers in Chadian capital N'Djamena believe these defections may have mercenary motives, their aim being to win concessions from Déby in ongoing disputes over the allocation of Chad's newfound oil wealth.10 While defecting to the rebels might seem a drastic irreversible step, there are examples in Chadian history of military defectors being welcomed back in government once their concerns are addressed.

On December 18, 2005, the Rassemblement pour la Démocratie et la Liberté (Rally for Democracy and Freedom, RDL), a Chadian rebel group based in Darfur, attacked the border town of Adré, Chad. Adré is the strategic key to Chad's defense against attacks launched from Sudan (both Déby and Hissèin Habré before him ascended to power in Chad after attacking from Darfur and capturing Adré). Déby, apparently prompted by the wave of defections from the Chadian army between October and December, had begun reinforcing Adré, as well as Abéché, the capital of Ouaddaï province, even before the December 18, 2005 attack.11

He set about reorganizing his military forces along the border to the south of Adré, starting with the battalion in Modoyna, which was deployed to Adré on October 10, 2005,12 followed by battalions stationed in Koloy and Koumou on December 10, 2005. As of early February 2006, the Chadian army garrisons in Modoyna, Koumou, Koloy, Adé, Aourado, Borota and Goungour stood empty.13 Withdrawal from these border positions allowed Janjaweed militias to operate unchecked in eastern Chad, with disastrous consequences for civilians.

On December 28, 2005, the RDL and seven other Chadian anti-government politico-military groups created the Front Unique pour le Changement Démocratique au Tchad (FUC) and united their forces under a single military commander, Mahamat Nour, former head of the RDL.14 In a recent interview, Nour said he would seize power by force of arms unless Déby convened a "national forum" to decide the nation's future before his presidential term ends in June.15

Cross-border Attacks on Civilians in Chad

Sudanese-based Janjaweed attacks into Chad

Recent Janjaweed attacks have occurred most frequently between the strategic town of Adré, thirty kilometers west of Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, and the small village of Modoyna, Chad, twenty kilometers west of the small West Darfur town of Damra. On and near this part of the border the civilian population is predominantly Masalit in the north and Dajo in the south, both non-Arab cross-border tribes that have also been the targets of Janjaweed attacks in Darfur.

Janjaweed militias based in Darfur were crossing the border north of Adré as early as 2003, largely in Zaghawa areas. They began conducting occasional raids in the region south of Adré in 2004. The border situation generally improved in 2005 thanks to a tentative ceasefire in Darfur; increasing presence of the AMIS (mandated by the Darfurian rebels and the Sudanese government to monitor an April 2004 ceasefire and protect civilians) in Darfur and in the border town of Tine (in a Zaghawa area) and in Abéché; and regular Chadian army patrols along the border. However, subsequent to the October-December 2005 withdrawal of the Chadian army from the area, and especially since the December 18 attack on Adré, security has deteriorated dramatically, and militia activity has increased. According to the secretary general of Adré prefecture, Janjaweed militias have attacked more than fifty border villages in the prefecture since December 18.16 Testimony from dozens of eyewitnesses suggests that starting in mid-December, Janjaweed raiding parties originating in Sudan have been carrying out attacks against villages inside Chad on a regular if not daily basis.

As markets in Darfur have been disrupted by violence and population dislocation, normal commerce is being replaced by a war economy in which livestock raiding and looting feature prominantly. Hence Janjaweed cross-border raids appear to be motivated heavily by considerations of profit, as cattle, horses, food and even household items such as straw mats and cups have been looted. Chadian villagers who resist robbery are summarily shot, and in some instances the Janjaweed have wantonly fired into huts, injuring and killing those inside. A thirty-five-year-old Dajo woman recounted an early morning Janjaweed attack on her village in September 2005 that killed seven, including her husband and her sixteen-year-old son. She was wounded, and was subsequently evacuated to the hospital in Adré, where her right leg was amputated at the knee:

I was sleeping and then I heard the guns and the screaming. I got up and my son was bleeding. I ran to him and I saw that he was dead. I ran back and that was when I was shot.... I just saw blood. My husband went into his room to get his grigri17 and the bullet hit him in the stomach and came out of his back. They had never attacked us before.18

Statements attributed to Janjaweed by eyewitnesses suggest that the appropriation of land may be another motivation for the violence. A fifty-one-year-old Dajo farmer from a Chadian border village that was attacked on December 18, 2005, is one of many who believe the Janjaweed seek to push non-Arabs off their land:

They came in the morning and they took the cows and the goats and they said, "What are you doing on this land. This is not your land. These cows are not your cows anymore. If you stay you will be killed, but if you run we won't kill you." The Janjaweed want to empty this place. They want to recover the land of the Nuba.19

Approximately one hundred kilometers south of Adré, in the vicinity of Borota (which is predominantly Masalit-inhabited), Janjaweed attacked a few hamlets on the night of January 20, 2006, while Human Rights Watch researchers were a few kilometers away in Borota center, documenting earlier attacks.20 The Janjaweed shot and badly wounded one man from Oussouri hamlet in the stomach; they also stole several horses.

Approximately 200 kilometers south of Adré, the village of Koloy has become a major center for internally displaced Chadians. Many villagers decided to relocate to Koloy, which lies twenty kilometers from the Sudan border, following a major Janjaweed attack in and around the village of Modoyna on September 27, 2005, that claimed dozens of lives.21 The Chadian army responded aggressively to that attack, engaging Janjaweed forces in a running gunbattle that ended near the border, and taking eight captives. One captive reportedly died of his wounds and the other seven are reported to be awaiting trial in a closed tribunal in N'Djamena.22

Human Rights Watch interviewed numerous victims of an attack against villages in the same area on December 18, 2005.23 That episode catalyzed an exodus away from the border and into Koloy that dwarfed the September displacement (see also below, "Humanitarian Consequences in Chad of Cross-Border Violence").

Displaced persons in Koloy, most of them Dajo, described a pattern of Janjaweed attacks remarkably consistent with testimony recorded further north, where the Masalit predominate: light skinned Arabs and some black Arabs wearing Sudanese army khakis and turbans carried out attacks on villages, usually on horses and sometimes on camels. Some witnesses remembered seeing "white" (light colored) desert camouflage uniforms in addition to "khaki Sudanese." Some in Koloy said they saw rank and insignia on the attackers' uniforms. Eyewitnesses gave Human Rights Watch names of Chadian Arabs they recognized from their villages who had evidently joined the Janjaweed.24 A forty-eight-year-old man with scars from a bullet that passed through his shoulder said he was wounded near the border on December 18, 2005, by an assailant who identified himself as Janjaweed.

I saw soldiers in uniforms in the fields so I went to greet them. One of them said, "Wrong. You think we're the Chadian army. How do you know we're from Chad?" He said "Have you heard of the Janjaweed?" I said "I don't know." Then he said, "Okay, run." I'm not a thief, why should I run? But I ran. Then he said, "Hey!" I turned around. He shot me.25

As a result of the security vacuum that exists on the Chad-Sudan border, Janjaweed raids have grown increasingly brazen. The Chadian military confirmed a Janjaweed attack on January 10, 2006, in Dorote, a Dajo village between Adé and Goz Beida, more than forty kilometers inside Chadian territory.26

In the absence of the Chadian military south of Adré, many villages have organized self-defense groups to discourage and defend against Janjaweed attacks – as their counterparts in Darfur were forced to do years earlier. These groups, made up of men and boys, are armed mostly with spears, ceremonial knives and swords, bows and arrows, carved clubs and boomerangs, though in some places villagers have raised money to equip their self-defense forces with firearms, generally Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Human Rights Watch noted a well-armed and well-organized self-defense group in Modoyna (comprised mostly of Dajo and some Zaghawa). The self-defense group in Borota, mostly Masalit, is said to have possessed around fifty firearms.27 Officially, the Chadian government has refused to arm civilians for its own reasons, and now aware of how quickly this strategy has spun out of control – by accident or by design – in Darfur. However, these civilian militia groups have been growing along the border south of Adré with or without outside assistance since at least 2004, when Human Rights Watch noted the presence of militia groups from inside Chad as well as militia groups composed of refugees on both sides of the border.28

Ethnic targeting by Janjaweed and others

The area of Chad bordering Darfur has a population that, similar to Darfur, is ethnically varied, with Arab groups present as well as non-Arabs (Africans). Many ethnic groups live on both sides of the border. Recent cross-border violence into Chad shows persistent signs of ethnic bias as it has largely affected two non-Arab tribes: the Masalit and the Dajo, which reside on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border and have been subjected to Janjaweed attacks in Darfur.29

The vast majority of eyewitnesses to Janjaweed raids in eastern Chad described their attackers as Arabs from Sudan with light or "red" skin color, speaking Sudanese Arabic. Many victims said their attackers used the pejorative racial epithet Nuba, suggesting that ethnic animus directs the violence. In border areas where non-Arab villages have been abandoned due to incessant raids, Arab villages enjoy de facto immunity from attack. The Janjaweed are drawn heavily from landless and often impoverished nomadic Arab tribes in Darfur, many of which emigrated from Chad in previous decades and have family ties on both sides of the border.

Recent Janjaweed attacks in eastern Chad are taking place in the context of underlying ethnic tensions that the Janjaweed raids only exacerbate. Inter-tribal violence in the eastern Ouaddaï province of Chad, especially in the area between the main towns of Adé and Goz Beida, has claimed at least twenty-two lives since the beginning of 2006.30 Disputes over resources and pastoral land use have led to bloodshed between the Dajo, which make up the majority in the area, and both Arab and other non-Arab tribes (who include the Mimi and the Waddai, both informally allied with the Arabs). Fields and orchards have been burned, and one village Human Rights Watch visited, Routrout, has been abandoned due to the continuing violence. The sultan of Goz Beida called all village chiefs in the area to a meeting on January 30 in a plea for peace.

Furthermore, Chadian Arabs from the area south of Adré have recently been crossing into Sudan in numbers significant enough to raise concern among humanitarian workers that the migration is being driven by fear of retaliatory attacks at the hands of non-Arabs.31 The motive behind the 2004 murders of two Arabs south of Adré by Massalit attackers was thought to have been revenge for Janjaweed raids in the area.32

Janjaweed leadership implicated in attacks in Chad

Two well-known Janjaweed militia leaders known to be closely allied to the Sudanese government are likely among those responsible for the violence in the area south of Adré. Hamid Dawai and Abdullah abu Shineibat were among the seven Janjaweed militia leaders named, by the United States (U.S.) Department of State in 200433 and in reports by Human Rights Watch and others,34 as leaders of some of the most abusive Janjaweed forces in West Darfur.

Victims of violence in Koloy identify Hamid Dawai, an emir of the Beni Halba tribe and Janjaweed leader in the Terbeba-Arara-Beida triangle of West Darfur, as being behind attacks on their villages. Dawai is said to be a Chadian Arab who is a naturalized Sudanese citizen. His considerable influence on the Janjaweed in Chad was demonstrated when he averted an imminent Janjaweed attack on a village north of Koloy, Chad, as a Dajo official from that village recalled:

The Janjaweed came at eight o'clock in the morning and circled the village. At ten o'clock Hamid Dawai came in two vehicles. I knew it was him because he said, "I am Hamid Dawai." He said, "Where is the chief?" I said, "It's me; I am the chief." I brought water and gave him tea. He spoke with the Janjaweed and said that they would not attack my village.35

Another man, whose father was killed in a Janjaweed raid between Goz Beida and Adé, told Human Rights Watch that Dawai seized fifty-one cows from the Janjaweed responsible and had them returned by way of Ali Muhammad Saleh, the deputy under-prefect of Adé.36 In Goz Beida, Chadian civilian officials have been negotiating directly with Dawai in 2006 in an attempt to put a stop to Janjaweed cross-border attacks.37

Abdullah Abu Shineibat, also an emir from the Beni Halba tribe, is the commander responsible for Janjaweed attacks in the area of Modoyna, twenty kilometers east of Koloy, according to eyewitnesses. Abdullah Abu Shineibat is reported to have an area of operations in Sudan that stretches from Arara (close to the Chadian border) some thirty kilometers east towards Habila, with a headquarters in Amsamgamti. Villagers in Modoyna believe their looted cattle can be found in Amsamgamti. Both Arara and Habila are frequently mentioned as points of origin in Sudan for Janjaweed raiding parties, as is Gobe, Sudan, due east of the Chadian village of Hadjer Beida.38

Sources inside the Chadian military identify Yacub Angar as the Janjaweed commander whose influence reaches as far south in Sudan as Hagar Banga, near the Chadian town of Tissi.39

Sudanese government participation and complicity in cross-border attacks

The links between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias in operations in Darfur have been comprehensively documented over the past few years.40 Human Rights Watch found evidence of apparent Sudanese government involvement in attacks against civilian populations in eastern Chad since early December 2005. Witness accounts and physical evidence indicated that government of Sudan troops and helicopter gunships participated directly in attacks, while many people reported seeing Antonov aircraft approach from Sudan, circle overhead, then return to Sudan in advance of Janjaweed raids; they believe spotters in these aircraft report concentrations of cattle to forces on the ground.41

Human Rights Watch documented four attacks by armed forces based in Darfur between December 5 and 11, 2005, in the prefecture of Goungour, with more than 8,300 mostly Masalit inhabitants in fifty-one hamlets, located eighty kilometers south of Adré. The first two attacks reportedly involved Janjaweed militias backed by government of Sudan soldiers and vehicles and two attack helicopters, which rocketed several areas over a three-day period.

Villagers described how they initially believed that Sudanese forces were pursuing Sudanese SLA rebels who were fleeing across the border into Goungour after skirmishes in Darfur. But it became apparent that civilians were the targets, as government of Sudan soldiers and Janjaweed directly attacked twenty-two villages in the Goungour area. Local officials in Goungour told Human Rights Watch that a total of forty-five people were killed over seven days of bloodshed, though only two fatalities could be verified.42 Livestock and food in large quantities were reported stolen.

In Bakou, part of Goungour prefecture, Human Rights Watch collected fragments of air-to-ground rockets43 and examined other physical evidence of aerial assaults presented by villagers, including shrapnel, stabilizing fins, a partially exploded rocket and handfuls of flechettes – small metal darts that are dispersed by anti-personnel ordnance.

Janjaweed militias between December 16, 2005, and January 5, 2006, attacked, looted and emptied forty villages out of eighty-five in the mostly Masalit prefecture of Borota, one hundred kilometers south of Adré. These attacks were conducted in the company of Sudanese police and soldiers, according to witnesses, who recognized the Sudanese officials not by their uniforms (they were dressed like Janjaweed, with assorted uniforms and turbans), but by their faces – they said they knew them from trading in Sudan, the border being within a few kilometers of several Borota villages. Reportedly the Janjaweed/Sudanese officials killed twelve Chadian civilians and wounded six, and looted horses, cattle, bags of grain and other goods. The inhabitants of all forty villages attacked in this period subsequently abandoned their homes and took refuge in Borota center.44

Hamid Dawai, one of the Janjaweed leaders mentioned above, is based in Beida, Sudan, where the government of Sudan reportedly maintains a sizable military base that has been reinforced recently with helicopters and heavy weapons, including tanks.45 In spite of the presence of these military assets, Sudan has proved unable or unwilling to prevent its Janjaweed militas in the area from launching attacks into Chad.46

Janjaweed-Chadian rebel coordination

Human Rights Watch found evidence of coordination between Janjaweed militias and RDL rebels, and there is circumstantial and other evidence that not just the Janjaweed but the RDL receive material and other support from Sudanese government forces. RDL rebels have several bases in West Darfur around Geneina, where Janjaweed militias and RDL rebels are said to occupy nearly adjacent camps (and where the Sudanese government has a substantial military presence),47 and in southern West Darfur. They have also reportedly been spotted in West Darfur in the company of government of Sudan army-sponsored Popular Defense Force militias.48

Eyewitness testimony suggests a military intelligence link between RDL rebels and Janjaweed militias. Local officials report RDL forces visited Modoyna on December 16, 2005, and spent the night there peacefully. When the RDL left Modoyna on December 17, an RDL rebel warned a member of the local self defense force that the Janjaweed planned a raid against Modoyna for the next day. 49 As predicted, a Janjaweed militia attacked Modoyna the next day, December 18.50

A coordinated RDL-Janjaweed attack took place on December 16, 2005, in Borota. The RDL rebels, who wore red bandanas marked with the letters "RDL" and drove vehicles bearing the same marking, controlled Borota for two hours before withdrawing. The same night Janjaweed militias raided six villages in the vicinity.51

Escalating Violence in Darfur and Consequences for Chad

It is no coincidence that the number of cross-border attacks into Chad have increased parallel to growing instability in the Darfur region, and specifically in the bordering state of West Darfur. These trends are closely linked to the proliferation of armed groups in the area and to the impunity with which these groups operate. Despite the presence of African Union forces in the region, civilians living in the displaced persons camps in Darfur continue to suffer regular attacks, including willful killings, rape and torture, at the hands of government-backed militias in Darfur and other armed groups, including criminals. In December 2005, the United Nations (U.N.) Secretary General described the situation in West Darfur as "the most complex security environment of the three States [of Darfur]."52

New refugee flows into Chad

Sudanese internally displaced persons have begun seeking refuge inside Chad in the wake of attacks by Janjaweed in and around the huge Sudanese internally displaced persons camps of Misterei and Mornei, West Darfur, and fighting between the SLA and government of Sudan forces nearby. Refugee camps at Farchana, Bredjing, and Treguine, all east of Abéché, Chad, have already reached capacity, and new arrivals are being directed to Gaga.53 According to records maintained by Commission Nationale d'Accueil et de Réinsertion des Réfugiés (National Commission for the Reception and of Reintegration of Refugees, CNAR), the Chadian refugee agency, an average of 200 refugees are registered on a daily basis at Gaga.

A fifty-year-old Masalit man who lived three years in the Misterei internally displaced persons camp in West Darfur arrived in Gaga with his family in January 2006, where Human Rights Watch interviewed him two days after his arrival. He left Misterei because of deteriorating security and consequent lack of food; the World Food Program suspended food distribution there for eight months in 2005. He reported that women were being harassed, beaten up or raped when they left the Misterei camp to collect firewood. "If they like your wife, they take her," he said of the Janjaweed in the area. The man said that internally displaced men were strictly forbidden from leaving Misterei camp, and Janjaweed have attacked and injured or killed such men outside the camp. He complained that the Janjaweed entered the displaced persons camp whenever they wanted, looting, shooting and abducting women. "Even the soldiers enter the camp and behave like the Janjaweed," he added.54

Humanitarian Consequences in Chad of Cross-Border Violence

Tens of thousands displaced south of Adré

The primary and most immediate consequence of the continuing insecurity on the Chadian side of the border has been the displacement of Chadian civilians. The Chadian government's stance is that displaced persons should be absorbed and supported by neighboring villages until they can return to their homes.55 Three significant concentrations of internally displaced persons can be found in the area south of Adré: in Goungour (between Adré and Adé), Borota (south of Goungour), and Koloy (southeast of Adé). Human Rights Watch interviewed both Dajo and Masalit internally displaced persons in all three of these areas.

One humanitarian agency operating in eastern Chad estimates the total number of internally displaced persons in the area south of Adré to be 30,000 that includes 10,000 who have taken refuge in Goungour. Internally displaced persons in Goungour complained of precarious food supplies and serious problems accessing clean water.

In Borota, internally displaced persons are clustered in three areas: Borota center, Koule and Kiranga. According to a humanitarian aid agency, 8,000 Displaced persons currently live in the greater Borota area, where the total population is 47,000. Local registration lists examined by Human Rights Watch showed that the population of Borota center has increased by 50 percent since the beginning of December, with 3,400 displaced persons added to the pre-conflict population of 6,850. Internally displaced persons in Borota complained of lack of food, water and medical assistance. Many complained of cold during the night because of a shortage of blankets, and as a result some are suffering from respiratory ailments.

Koloy, with a pre-conflict population of 1,904, has become a place of refuge for 10,000 to 12,000 internally displaced persons, most of them Dajo, from twenty-six villages along the border. The vast majority of the displaced arrived in 2005 in three distinct waves: one in June, another in September, and a third in December, the last being by far the largest. Koloy was thought to be safe from attack and a potential source of humanitarian aid.56

The last harvest in eastern Chad was by all accounts outstanding, 50 percent greater than in the previous three years (although poor results have been reported in some areas). Even so, internally displaced persons can eat only what food they can carry, either by themselves or with the help of draught animals. Many individuals interviewed reported having been attacked when they returned to their villages to recover food they had stored in their homes or left in their fields and gardens. After spending twenty days in Koloy with her three children and with food supplies running low, a fifty-year-old Dajo woman recounted how she returned to her village on the border near Koumou on January 19, 2006, to recover food:

I wanted to collect tomatoes from my garden, and peppers, and I was working to collect the vegetables when I saw five men, all wearing army uniforms and turbans, with their faces covered. They said, "Leave this place. Leave those vegetables. You came from far away; they're not your vegetables." I said, "I'm hungry; I came to get them." They beat me with bricks. I ran away and hid in a mango tree but they followed me and beat me again. Then they let their horses and camels eat my vegetables.57

Food security could become an issue if the internally displaced continue to be denied access to food stored in their villages; in any event, food is likely to become a problem for them during the usual "hunger gap" in advance of the next harvest, in August 2006. The most immediate concern, however, is water – only one well in Borota was working, and some villagers who resorted to drinking surface water suffered from bloody diarrhea. When Human Rights Watch visited, the only well in Koloy was almost completely dry, with only small amounts of muddy water able to be extracted. People who had drawn surface water from the dry riverbed also were suffering from diarrhea.

Impact of insecurity on humanitarian assistance

Most local and international nongovernmental organizations suspended their activities between Adré and Modoyna following the December 18, 2005, attack on Adré. Due to insecurity, there has been no monitoring of the Chad-Sudan border by staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since October, though a monitoring trip was reportedly planned for February 2006.58

Insecurity is also taking root along the border north of Adré, until recently a relatively safe area for humanitarian agencies (this area is north of the region surveyed by Human Rights Watch). Several humanitarian vehicles were stolen at gunpoint in January 2006. On January 20, the prefect of Dar Tama department, a UNHCR security liaison officer with whom he was meeting, and two accompanying Chadian military officers were briefly kidnapped in Guéréda by several gunmen.59 Aid officials responded by reducing their staff in the area by 20 percent : ninety people from the U.N. and other aid agencies were evacuated from Guéréda and another eighty from nearby Iriba.60

In the event of a major military engagement between Chadian military forces and any of the rebel groups arrayed against it, international humanitarian operations in eastern Chad could be severely hampered, resulting in a potentially massive disruption to the flow of aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees and Chadian civilians in the region.


To the United Nations Security Council

  • Ensure that a proposed U.N. force for Darfur is authorized, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, to:
  • Use "all necessary means" to protect civilians in Darfur and along the Chadian border;
  • Monitor the implementation of the arms embargo; and
  • Disarm abusive militia forces such as the Janjaweed.
  • Ensure sufficient resources, including military equipment, personnel and funding, are made available for this operation;
  • Call on U.N. member states to contribute sufficient personnel, equipment, other resources and funding to the AMIS in the interim period before a transition to a U.N. force; and
  • Place Hamid Dawai, Abdullah Shineibat, Yacub Angar and other individuals publicly named as responsible for attacks on civilians on the list of persons to be subject to travel bans and other sanctions by the U.N. Sanctions Committee.

To the Government of Sudan

  • Take all necessary steps, including by issuing clear public orders to government forces and police including the Border Intelligence Patrol guards and government-sponsored and supplied paramilitary and militia, to immediately cease attacks on civilians and civilian property in Chad;
  • Cease providing the above-mentioned militia units with financial, logistical and military support; and
  • Cease providing financial, logistical and military support to Chadian rebel groups, such as the RDL and the FUC.

To the Government of Chad

  • Re-occupy all border garrisons and renew regular border patrols to ensure the security of the population and displaced persons along the Sudan border;
  • Safeguard the rights of detainees, including captured Janjaweed militia members and RDL rebels, and conduct judicial proceedings in fair and public hearings; and
  • Cease providing financial, logistical and military support to Darfurian rebel groups, as noted in the December 9, 2005 report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan.

To the African Union

  • Proactively patrol the main roads and villages in Darfur, particularly in rural areas and in strategic points along the Chadian border to deter further attacks against the civilian population.

To the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies in Chad and Darfur

  • Promote the protection of civilians simultaneous with the distribution of humanitarian assistance and extend operations into more rural areas to the greatest extent possible within security constraints.

[1] Approximately 1.8 million internally displaced persons are in Darfur. See UNHCR 2006 Global Appeal – Darfur, [online] bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=PUBL&id=4371d17fe&page=home. Another 220,000 Sudanese refugees are in Chad that includes 200,000 in camps and 20,000 spontaneously settled in communities along the border with Sudan. See UNHCR 2006 Global Appeal – Chad, [online]

[2] See Human Rights Watch, "Darfur in Flames: Atrocities in Western Sudan," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol 16, no. 5(A) April 2004, [online]; "Darfur Destroyed: Ethnic Cleansing by Government and Militia Forces in Western Sudan," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol 16, no. 6 (A), May 2004, [online]; "Darfur Documents Confirm Government Policy of Militia Support," A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, July 20, 2004, [online]; "Empty Promises? Continuing Abuses in Darfur, Sudan," A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, August 11, 2004, [online]; "If We Return We Will Be Killed," A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, November 15, 2004, [online]; "Targeting the Fur: Mass Killings in Darfur," A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, January 24, 2005; "Sexual Violence and its Consequences Among Displaced Persons in Darfur and Chad," A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper, April 12, 2005, [online]; "Entrenching Impunity: Government Responsibility for International Crimes in Darfur," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 17, no. 17(A), December 2005, [online] ; and "Sudan : Imperatives for Immediate Change," A Human Rights Watch Report, January 2006, vol.18, no. 1(A), [online]

[3] Power has never changed hands peacefully in Chad, and it was ranked 173 out of 177 countries by the United Nations Human Development Report 2005 (Table 1, p. 222), [online]

[4] Human Rights Watch interviews, North Darfur, July-August 2004.

[5] Opheera McDoom, "Darfur rebels attack Sudan army base," Reuters, Jan 28, 2006, [online]

[6] Opheera McDoom, "Sudan bid to head AU gathers pace despite critics," Reuters, January 20, 2006, [online] +. Opheera McDoom, "U.S. praises AU decision not appoint Sudan as head," Reuters, January 24, 2006, [online]

[7] "Sudan and Chad agree peace plan,"BBC News,February 9, 2006, [online]

[8] Mark Doyle, "Darfur misery has complex roots," BBC News, September 26, 2005, [online]

[9] "CHAD: With insecurity mounting in the east, are Deby's days numbered?", U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), February 10, 2006, [online] A significant number of ex-Chadian military personnel have also joined Darfurian insurgents the SLA and the JEM. Human Rights Watch interviews, North Darfur, July-August 2004.

[10] Confidential communications to Human Rights Watch, N'Djamena, Chad, February 3-4, 2006. In December, citing security needs, President Déby rescinded an oil revenue management law designed by the World Bank and nongovernmental organizations to reserve oil income for priority sectors such as health and education. The World Bank responded by freezing the government of Chad's access to oil revenue held in a Citibank account in London on January 12, 2006, but it was not able to freeze a U.S. $ 36.2 million future generations fund, also World Bank administered, which Déby's government has withdrawn in its entirety (this compares with U.S. $46 million in total accruals to Chad's general budget since oil production began in 2003). Human Rights Watch interviews, N'djamena, Chad, February 2006. See also "World Bank Suspends Disbursements to Chad," World Bank press release, Washington, DC, January 6, 2006, [online],,contentMDK:20778928~menuPK:349881~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:349862,00.html.

[11] Chadian rebels attacked Guereda, 120 kilometers north of Adre, on December 7, 2005, leaving ten dead and five wounded. The attack (attributed to the Platform for Change, Unity and Democracy, SCUD, a group of Chadian military deserters) marked the beginning of a campaign of rebel incursions from Darfur, and prompted the Chadian government to condemn Khartoum for backing the rebels. Human Rights Watch confidential communication, December 12, 2005.

[12] Reportedly, two helicopters landed in Modoyna, offloaded fuel, and gave the battalion commander instructions to gas up his eight vehicles and relocate to Adré, which was done that day. Human Rights Watch interview, January 29, 2006.

[13] The Chadian military plans to send soldiers back to Adé and Modoyna, and to this end it withdrew 300 troops from N'Djamena and Chad's northern command in January. As of this writing, the redeployed soldiers remain stranded in Abéché, the capital of Ouaddaï province, for lack of transport. Human Rights Watch, confidential communication, January 30, 2006.

[14] The seven other groups are the Socle pour le Changement, unite et la Democratie (Platform for Change, Unity and Democracy, SCUD), Front Nationale pour le Tchad Renovée (National Front for the Renewal of Chad, FNTR), National Council for Recovery (CNR), Force pour le Ratissage, le Regroupement et le Redressement du Tchad (Force for Raking, Regrouping and Rectification of Chad, FRRRT), Grouped u 8 Décembre, CNT and FIDL. Nour, from the Tama tribe, helped overthrow Hissène Habré as president in 1990, but entered armed opposition to Déby's rule shortly thereafter. In 2003, with support from the government of Sudan, Nour organized and directed Janjaweed militias in Darfur. Human Rights Watch interviews, Chad, January 2006.

[15] Opheera McDoom, "Chadian rebels threaten fresh assault," Reuters, February 10, 2006, [online]

[16] One humanitarian relief group estimates that twenty-six to twenty-eight villages in the area have been attacked or destroyed by Janjaweed during the same period. Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 13, 2006.

[17] Small leather amulets containing quotes from the Koran, believed to protect the wearer from harm. They are known as hijab on the Sudanese side of the border.

[18] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 27, 2006.

[19] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 27, 2006. Nuba is a pejorative term for black people and/or slaves that is used in Sudan, usually by non-Africans.

[20] The hamlets included Yayulata, Oussouri, and Ishbara. The earlier attacks in the Borota area occurred between December 16 and January 6.

[21] Local sources place the death toll at anywhere from fifty-three to seventy-two civilians killed; most media reports count thirty-six dead – see for example "Chad: Government says Sudanese insurgents killed 36 herders in east," IRIN, September 27, 2005, [online]

[22] The torture and other mistreatment of prisoners is a serious problem in Chadian detention centers, so the status of these detainees must be monitored. Human Rights Watch has heard recent testimony from a Darfurian political activist who was held incommunicado and tortured in the Chadian capital in 2005. Human Rights Watch interview, Abuja, Nigeria, December 15, 2005.

[23] Human Rights Watch interviews, Chad, January 27-28, 2006.

[24] Chadian Arabs were recognized among Janjaweed attackers in other incidents. For example, many villagers from Borota villages told Human Rights Watch that they grew up with two Chadian Arabs who joined the Janjaweed and returned to participate in attacks in Borota. Their names, provided to Human Rights Watch, were apparently well-known to many residents. Villagers displaced from the Koumou area approximately 100 kilometers southeast of Borota similarly provided names of other Chadian Arabs they knew who apparently joined the Janjaweed.

[25] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 27, 2006.

[26] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 31, 2006.

[27] Human Rights Watch, interview, Chad, February 3, 2006.

[28] See Human Rights Watch Report, "Empty Promises?"

[29] In Chad, the Masalit make up the majority between Adré, located twenty-five kilometers west of the Sudanese town of Geneina, and Adé, 175 kilometers to the south. The Dajo predominate in the area to the south and east of Adé.

[30] Human Rights Watch interviews, January 29 to February 1, 2006. Goz Beida (forty kilometers from the Sudanese border) is seventy-five kilometers southwest of Ade.

[31] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 31, 2006.

[32] See Human Rights Watch Report, "Darfur in Flames."

[33] "Confronting, Ending, and Preventing War Crimes in Africa," Pierre-Richard Prosper, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Washington, DC, June 24, 2004, [online]

[34] See Human Rights Watch Report, "Darfur Destroyed."

[35] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 27, 2006.

[36] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 26, 2006.

[37] Human Rights Watch interviews, January 25-30, 2006.

[38] Human Rights Watch interviews, Chad, January 28, 2006.

[39] Confidential communication to Human Rights Watch, Chad, January 31, 2006.

[40] See Human Rights Watch Report, "Entrenching Impunity."

[41] Human Rights Watch interview, January 29, 2006.

[42] Medical records examined by Human Rights Watch at the dispensary in Goungour showed fifteen civilians injured in Goungour on December 11 and two killed. All casualties resulted from gunshot wounds.

[43] Some rocket fragments bore Cyrillic letters similarly to fragments recovered by Human Rights Watch in 2005 from Sudanese government attacks near Jebel Mara in Darfur.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 20, 2006.

[45] Human Rights Watch interview with Chadian officials (identities withheld), Chad, January 20, 2006; "SUDAN-CHAD: Cross-border conflict escalates," IRIN, March 16, 2004, [online]

[46] See Human Rights Watch Report, "Darfur Destroyed," for further details on Hamid Dawai's involvement in the attacks in the Beida area in 2003 and 2004.

[47] A video reportedly aired late last year on Al Jazeera Television showed RDL leader Muhammad Nour parading new weapons and vehicles, in the company of a mid-level Janjaweed commander. Human Rights Watch interviews, Chad, February 3, 2006.

[48] Confidential communication, February 6, 2006.

[49] The RDL rebel warned that the people of Modoyna should bring their cattle in from the fields, because the Janjaweed planned a raid for the next day. Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 29, 2006.

[50] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 29, 2006.

[51] The French army (which patrols the Darfur/Sudan border at Chadian government request) arrived in Borota a few hours later. The next day, French soldiers reportedly allowed RDL rebels to drive through Borota on their way to Adré, which the rebels attacked the following day. Human Rights Watch interview, administrative district official, Borota, Chad, January 20, 2006.

[52] Monthly Report of the Secretary-General on Darfur, United Nations, December 23, 2005, S/2005/825, [online]

[53] According to CNAR, 217 refugees registered at Gaga on January 22 alone. Gaga's January 2006 population was 6,400, with a capacity of 20,000. Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 23, 2006.

[54] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 23, 2006.

[55] Nevertheless, an internally displaced persons committee comprised of Chadian officials, UNHCR, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), OXFAM and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) has been set up in Abéché to monitor the status of displaced persons and take action as needed.

[56] Several humanitarian organizations distributed shelter material, food and seeds to Koloy in 2005. Human Rights Watch interviews, Chad, January 25 and February 3, 2006.

[57] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 28, 2006.

[58] Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 31, 2006.

[59] "CHAD: UN scales back in east after local officals", IRIN January 23, 2006, [online] kidnapped; Human Rights Watch interview, Chad, January 23, 2006.

[60] "CHAD: With insecurity mounting in the east, are Deby's days numbered?", IRIN, February 10, 2006, [online]

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