Two months after Maclean’s reported that a genocide raging in Darfur is poised to spread into neighbouring Chad, the UN refugee agency has compared the situation in Chad to that of Rwanda in 1994, when some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred over 100 days. “We are seeing elements that closely resemble what we saw in Rwanda in the genocide, and we have an opportunity here to avoid such a tragedy from occurring again,” the agency’s Matthew Conway told the BBC.
Eastern Chad is home to more than 200,000 refugees from Darfur who have fled violence inflicted on the region’s black tribes by the government of Sudan and its allied Arab militias, known as the janjaweed. Now these Arab militias have begun crossing the border to attack black tribes in Chad, where they are often joined by local Chadian Arabs. More than 100,000 non-Arab Chadians have been driven from their homes, and threaten to overwhelm aid agencies in the area.
So far, the death toll in eastern Chad is nowhere near that of Rwanda’s in 1994. Hundreds have been killed. Martin Braaksma, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders, said that the number of Chadians fleeing is lower now than it was when Maclean’s travelled through the region in late November. However, both the janjaweed and Sudanesesponsored rebels have grown bolder in recent weeks, attacking aid convoys and towns thought to be safe only months ago. The border separating Chad from Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have been killed, is porous and weakly defended by the Chadian army. Continued violence threatens to turn it into a meaningless barrier. The UN is planning to discuss sending a peacekeeping force to Chad, but a decision is not expected soon. M
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