“The Risk of Return: Repatriating the Displaced in the Context of Conflict in Eastern Chad,” a recent report from Human Rights Watch, discusses the return of internally displaced persons to their homes in Chad. The report addresses the violence that erupted in Koukou-Angarana in May 2009. The sites host around 40,000 IDPs and 20,000 Sudanese refugees. The fighting in May led eleven NGOs and three U.N. agencies to withdraw their non-essential staff.
40,000 Chadian IDPs returned home in 2008 and found their communities in ruins. However, the Chadian government, led by President Deby, has done very little to stabilize Dar Sila.
In its report, HRW discusses the roots of the violence and humanitarian support in the region. Differences between historically privileged and marginalized groups over land use are critical drivers of conflict in Dar Sila. Violence often erupts over the access to assistance. Humanitarian agencies must consider the needs of both IDPs and non-displaced civilians, who struggle to survive despite being able to stay in their villages.
Initiatives must target the root causes of the crisis. HRW offers recommendations for next steps that the Chadian government, MINURCAT, and other governments can take to calm the violence and return thousands of IDPs to their homes. The report suggests that:
“A government-led, UN-supported process of staggered and deliberate return could support spontaneous returns while at the same time continuing assistance to those who decide to remain in their displacement sites or wish to relocate to safer areas of the country.”
Check out the full report here.