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Darfur crisis spreading to Central Africa - UN

[Chad] Children in Goz Beida village for displaced Chadians. [Date picture taken: 06/01/2006]
Chadians displaced by militia attacks squatting near Goz Beida, eastern Chad (Nicholas Reader/IRIN)

If the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region is not resolved soon, the conflict could spread deeper into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic and destabilise the whole region, the United Nations representative in Chad warned in an interview.

“[The Darfur conflict] is creating armed groups that are destabilising entire populations in the east, and now it is moving towards the south, towards Central Africa,” Kingsley Amaning, the UN resident representative in Chad told reporters on Tuesday.

Amaning said stopping the flow of weapons to the dozens of armed militia movements in the region was a major target.

“If we do not stabilise Darfur soon it will become a major theatre where we see a considerable supply of weapons everywhere,” he said.

There has already been a spate of skirmishes and attacks along the border of southern Chad close to Cameroon and the Central African Republic this year.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned that Sudanese rebels have been sheltering in eastern Chad, threatening the security of refugee camps holding 240,000 Sudanese who fled attacks at home.

Human rights groups have also documented widespread attacks on Chadian civilians in the remote east of Chad by militia groups based in Sudan. Aid agencies estimate that 55,000 Chadian civilians have fled their homes in the last year, a trend Amaning warned will continue without action in Darfur.

“If Darfur is not resolved, we will continue to have armed groups operating in all the areas around the border,” he said.

Amaning cautioned that so long as rebels opposed to the Chadian government also continue to operate in the region, government troops will remain preoccupied protecting the state and state structures, not civilians.

“[Ongoing attacks] may continue to weaken government institutions and apparatus and certainly make the life of ordinary citizens almost impossible, creating vulnerability all round,” Amaning said.

Although he was enthusiastic about an agreement between Chad and Sudan to reestablish diplomatic relations and to both stop hosting rebel groups, Amaning said real work would be needed by both countries to find a more lasting solution to their problems.

“If the two countries work together to find a more durable solution to this problem, not only just establish relations but going beyond that to work together, we will have the real solution to the Darfur problem,” he said.

But if deeper cooperation does not happen, he warned that the “general deterioration of the stability in those areas” and in the sub-region “will create a humanitarian disaster”.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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