London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Thousands of refugees who fled weekend fighting in the Chadian capital have arrived in Nigeria after a gruelling journey through Cameroon and are camping in the open in remote border towns.
In Gamboru-Ngala, a dusty outpost near Nigeria’s northeastern border with Cameroon, hundreds of haggard refugees sitting in the shade of trees awaiting help. Many said they had not eaten for days.
Most were women and children and appeared to have left in a hurry as they had few possessions apart from the clothes they were wearing. Some had walked for days while others had paid to ride on open-top trucks.
Over the weekend, the Chadian Army has regained full control of conditions in N’Djamena after the departure of opposition forces. But it said there were around 30 trucks inside the capital and warned of new military buildups being organized by Sudan. The rebels meanwhile admitted they have withdrawn from the capital but said this was a temporary measure pending the evacuation of civilians. The UN Security Council condemned the attack by opposition forces on the Chadian capital. Thousands have fled the capital–where a fragile calm reigns–moving to nearby Cameroon for fear of renewal of battles.
Chad’s Ambassador in Washington, Mahmud Adam Bashir, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Chadian town of Idri was also retaken after a rebel attack launched over the weekend. He attributed a delay in the broadcasting of a promised statement by President Idriss Deby, who is still in his palace in N’Djamena, to the complete destruction of the radio station and other governmental facilities. “The rebels destroyed the radio station after they became certain of their defeat,” he said. “This was a deliberate act of sabotage behind which the regime in Khartoum stands”. He said that the Chad government’s priority was “securing the capital and purging it of infiltrators”, adding that the UN Security Council and the international community need no evidence on the involvement of the Sudanese Government in the military intervention in his country. “We do not expect the Khartoum regime to give up, and we expect it to send more forces to sabotage the country.” Chadian sources said 300 four-wheel vehicles brought in from an Arab country crossed the Sudanese border into Chad. But a Sudanese Army spokesman denied any involvement by Sudan. Meanwhile the opposition Darfur Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] denied its involvement in the ongoing conflict in Chad.
It dismissed governmental allegations as an attempt to distract attention from the defeat it suffered in N’Djamena. JEM spokesman Ahmad Hussein told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Darfur issue is not affected by whether Deby stayed in power or not. “We are an independent movement with an agenda for its people,”he said, adding that Khartoum was trying to divert attention from its adventurous bids to change regimes in neighboring countries. He said his movement held the Sudanese Government responsible for the attempt to overthrow the Chad regime. “Khartoum was involved in planning, financing, and implementation of the attempt to overthrow the regime inn N’Djamena,” he said. “This is in contradiction with the traditions of the Sudanese people and in contravention of international conventions and good neighborly relations.” He said the Sudanese Government wanted to liquidate the Darfur case by its invasion of Chad through creation of total anarchy and suspending the deployment of the hybrid force in Darfur. He urged the international community to intervene quickly, stressing that the Darfur issue remains alive because it is a people’s cause.