Freshly returned from a trip to the region, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief John Holmes painted a dire picture of the insecurity and banditry plaguing eastern Chad. While Holmes dutifully remained hopeful about the ability of the MINURCAT peacekeeping force to improve the situation, there have been a number of serious warning clouds of late:
- In July, Refugees International called MINURCAT’s presence in Chad and CAR “largely invisible.”
- In September, Oxfam blasted the UN’s performance in managing the policing component of MINURCAT.
- And perhaps most troublingly in October, Doctors Without Borders withdrew their expatriate staff from the Chad-Darfur border region and, along with other aid agencies, warned that nearly half a million refugees and displaced people in the border region could be affected by their reduced assistance.
Both Holmes and these NGOs can certainly agree on one thing: one of the greatest dangers in Chad is the international community’s tendency to ignore the place until it blows up.