Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

World Refugee Survey 2008 - Chad

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 19 June 2008
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, World Refugee Survey 2008 - Chad, 19 June 2008, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
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.

TCD figures


Chad hosted more than 294,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR). Chad recognized on a prima facie basis all Sudanese and CAR refugees, most of whom resided in camps. The nearly 243,000 Sudanese refugees came from Darfur, while more than 46,000 CAR refugees, mostly from the Fulbe/Peul tribe, fled violence from rebel groups, bandits, and military forces in northern CAR. In July, over 750 refugee families voluntarily returned from Chadian camps to Dar Zaghawa in West Darfur.

As many as 12,000, mainly male, refugees from Darfur arrived in Chad in early 2008 following Sudanese military air strikes on three West Darfur towns.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

There were no reports of refoulement or deportations to third countries during the year.

After rebels attacked the capital N'Djamena in February 2008, however, Chad threatened to expel Sudanese refugees already in the country and those newly arriving. The Government claimed that Sudan had begun backing Chadian rebels because of Chad's protection of Sudanese refugees on its soil. Prime Minister Nouradine Delwa Kassiré Coumakoye asked the international community to relocate the existing refugees currently residing in eastern Chad.

Chadians sometimes clashed with refugees as they competed over scarce resources. In January 2007, unknown assailants shot and killed two Sudanese refugees and wounded a nine-month-pregnant refugee in Kounoungou camp, near Guereda. Also in January, three Chadian nomads stabbed a Sudanese refugee outside Gaga camp as she gathered firewood. Between January and March, nearly 140 women and girls from the 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad reported that they had suffered sexual violence, but there was no information about the identity of the perpetrators. Some 24 refugees suffered burns in April 2008 when a cooking fire burned out of control in Goz Amer camp and rendered 3,000 refugees homeless.

Armed bandits attacked Goz Amer camp in January 2007, causing some refugees to flee. Camp residents asked the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to move them to a safer location because of continued insecurity in eastern Chad. UNHCR had not found suitable relocation sites for Oure Cassoni and Am Nabak refugees by year's end.

The Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement continued to recruit, often through torture, Sudanese children from the 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad, recruiting nearly 40 of them from Breidjing camp in January. Also in January, the toro bora, an ethnic black militia opposing the Arab janjaweed, recruited nine refugee children near the Djabal refugee camp in Goz Beida. In response to the violence against refugees, in September the UN Security Council approved the establishment of a peacekeeping force.

In October, after 11 diarrhea and malnutrition related deaths in Dosseye camp, angry CAR refugees accused four Fulbe/Peul women of witchcraft, attacked them, and burned their tents. In response, UNHCR and its partners organized seven awareness sessions focusing on health, sanitation, community cohesion, and the danger of accusing people without evidence.

Chad did not have a refugee law, but its National Refugee Authority (CNAR) oversaw refugee policy. The CNAR's Sub-Commission on Eligibility, assisted by UNHCR, determined on an individual basis all other asylum cases in N'Djamena. In order to discourage Sudanese and Central Africans from settling in the capital, officials did not recognize asylum seekers from Sudan and CAR on an individual basis in N'Djamena.

During the year, the Government and UNHCR drafted a refugee law, officially submitting it for Government approval, which was not forthcoming by year's end.

Chad was party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees without reservation, as well as the 1969 Convention governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. Its 1996 Constitution provided for asylum and forbade the extradition of "political refugees." Chad signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UNHCR, reiterating the Government's commitment to protecting asylum seekers against refoulement.

Detention/Access to Courts

At year's end, there were no refugees in prison. Chad detained refugees and asylum seekers for crimes, but not for exercising their rights. A Rwandan refugee charged with stealing her neighbor's jewelry spent six days in a local prison before being released for lack of evidence, while a refugee from Republic of Congo spent three days in detention for fighting and went free after paying a fine.

Police also entered camps to detain refugees whom they accused of being CAR rebels or supporters. Authorities held prisoners in very poor and overcrowded conditions, and guards sometimes subjected refugees to forced labor such as cleaning or cutting wood.

UNHCR pursued cases with local police posts, and usually could visit detained prisoners. Two national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) based in southern Chad monitored refugee detention in Gore. Refugees could challenge their detention before independent tribunals and had access to counsel, which UNHCR provided free of charge. Refugees had access to courts, though they rarely used them because there were no courts in the camps and those in the capital were costly and slow. They usually settled minor disputes through elected refugee committees and representatives inside the camps. In southern camps, a committee of elders generally dealt with minor disputes and helped ease tensions between locals and refugees. They helped investigate accusations of rape. Refugees in southern Chad received identity documents attesting to their status and right to be in the country, which police generally respected, but those in the eastern regions still had not received any documents, as UNHCR was still negotiating the issue with the Government.

Asylum seekers and refugees recognized on an individual basis received Chadian refugee cards indicating their status. Those in camps received only family registration certificates and ration cards.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

Refugees and asylum seekers were generally free to move around the country and live where they chose without fear of extortion or harassment, but food aid was not available outside the camps. The Government required refugees to obtain safe-conduct documents before leaving the camp regions, but CNAR, based in each camp, issued them without cost or delay, although refugees reported that officials at checkpoints occasionally demanded bribes.

A number of refugees remained in villages near the border where they had family or ethnic ties. Around 5,000 refugees, mainly from other countries other than Sudan and CAR, lived in the capital, N'Djamena, but government officials refused to register Sudanese or CAR refugees there.

Almost all of the CAR refugees resided in four camps: Amboko, Gondje, Dosseye, and Yaroungou. Over 15,000 refugees from Darfur, one third of them children aged between 6 and 14, lived in Djabal camp in eastern Chad.

Recognized refugees could obtain international travel documents from UNHCR via CNAR provided that they presented a written request and had recognized status, identity documents, and valid reasons for travel outside Chad. During the year, two of ten applicants received permission to travel outside the country. Most who did not receive permission were unable to prove that they could buy plane tickets or support themselves elsewhere.

The Constitution reserved its right to freedom of movement to citizens.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

The Government allowed refugees to work and practice professions, but non-camp refugees had to obtain work authorization. Like nationals, refugees could own businesses provided that they obtained the requisite licenses, which usually required UNHCR intervention. Refugees also enjoyed the benefits of labor legislation. Many refugee children ended up working for Chadian families in order to help their families survive.

In theory, refugees in Chad enjoyed the right to own both movable and immovable property, but they encountered the same obstacles as did nationals, including lack of connections or family ties. The overall scarcity of water, firewood, and arable land intensified competition and conflict between the local population and refugees, limiting the latter group's ability to become self-reliant.

Public Relief and Education

Chad did not restrict aid organizations in their attempts to help refugees, but during the year armed groups and bandits attacked aid workers and looted their supplies, disrupting their efforts to feed refugees. In May, bandits attacked two World Food Programme (WFP) employees as the agency delivered food to three camps. In June, they injured three engineers traveling in a convoy belonging to the aid group Oxfam and another NGO. In November, rebels shot one of the Chadian gendarmes protecting the Koukou Angarana refugee camp and injured two international aid workers. In December, unknown assailants killed a UNHCR driver in Danamadji in southern Chad. Rebel attacks and theft of UNHCR vehicles precipitated the departure of UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) personnel among the 1,000 foreigners evacuated in early 2008, although a skeleton staff remained in Mile and Kounoungou refugee camps to provide basic aid.

In April, WFP announced that refugees in the country were in danger of running out of food.

Aid groups came under suspicion in October, when the Government arrested 17 European nationals and four Chadians as they attempted to fly 103 children, purportedly orphans from Darfur, out of the country. Authorities charged six members of the French aid group, Zoe's Ark, with kidnapping, after UNHCR determined that most of the children came from two villages in Chad near the border with Sudan and that they were not orphans. It remained unclear if the children were Chadians or Sudanese because of the porous border and constant border crossing by nationals of both countries. As of February 2008, the 103 children remained in a government camp despite authorities' efforts to reunite them with their families.

Camp residents received food rations, unlike refugees in the capital, but those in N'Djamena received legal, social, and medical help when necessary. Given Chad's scarce natural resources and inadequate infrastructure, UNHCR assisted both camp residents and locals in rural areas, especially since locals had shared their food, water, and land with the refugees. MSF provided medical assistance to residents of Djabal, Koukou, Angarana, and Goz Amer camps. Refugees and asylum seekers had the same rights as nationals to public relief, rationing, and health services.

Fighting between government troops and rebels limited UNHCR access to the Farchana, Iriba, Biltine, and Guereda camps, which disrupted the agency's ability to supply food, drinking water, and medicine to camp residents. Severe flooding in eastern Chad caused UNHCR and other agencies to suspend operations and disrupted food supplies to tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees. In Koukou, the worst hit area, refugees fled to higher ground to escape the floodwaters, as their shacks collapsed in the floods. France airlifted WFP's food supplies. Refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad received 40,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets from UNHCR and its partners. A Dutch aid group handed out 6,000 solar-powered stoves to refugees in Iridimi camp who would otherwise have gone out to chop trees and incur attacks by locals.

Around 85 percent of the refugee children in eastern Chad enrolled in UNHCR- and UNICEF-funded primary schools, which were poorly equipped. In March, Jesuit Refugee Service, a UNICEF implementing partner, conducted teacher-training workshops in four camps in eastern Chad. Children in the camp schools often dropped out due to trauma, forced recruitment, and household responsibilities. Although the schools followed the Sudanese curriculum, the Sudanese Government did not recognize them. The Chadian Education Ministry oversaw program quality and exams. Tuition was free but most parents could not afford to buy uniforms for their children. The lack of secondary schools limited refugee and asylum seeker children's access to further education.

Chad included refugees in the 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper it prepared for international donors.

USCRI Reports

  • USCR Urges President Bush to Condemn Khartoum's Genocide and Act Now to Save Hundreds of Thousands of Lives in Darfur (Press Releases)
  • Stop the Genocide in Darfur, Mr. President U.S. Official Says One Million People May Die (Press Releases)
  • Lead More Boldly on Darfur, Mr. President Don't Repeat Bill Clinton's Historic Mistake on Rwanda (Press Releases)
  • Largely Ignored by International Community, Yearlong Massive Displacement and Death in Western Sudan's Darfur Region Continues (Press Releases)

Search Refworld