African Press International (API)

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Chad: Country seeks foreign help on Darfur refugee influx

Posted by African Press International on May 20, 2008

Publisher Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source: guardian.Nigeria

In a move to halt further inflow of Sudanese refugees, Chad’s foreign minister Moussa Faki, has urged the international community to step in and resolve the Darfur conflict.

He said some 250,000 refugees have flooded into the country from the civil war that has been ravaging the neighbouring Sudanese province of Darfur for the past five years, with another 190,000 people driven from their homes. “This is a lot. It’s a human, social and environmental problem. Chad is suffering the consequences of this conflict… We already have enough on our hands trying to ensure the development of our people,” Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted Moussa Faki, also the former Prime Minister of Chad, as saying.

Relations have been tense between the two countries since 2003 when war broke out in Darfur, sending hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing across the Chadian border. Sudan severed diplomatic ties with Chad on Sunday, accusing N’Djamena of backing a rebel assault on the Sudanese capital at the weekend. Chad closed its border the following day, ramping up tensions between the volatile neighbours.

More than 200 people were killed in that assault and other clashes outside the city over three days, as the rebels headed from the remote west to Omdurman, across the river from Khartoum, in at least 150 vehicles. The dead included 97 soldiers. Faki denied that Chad was involved in these attacks, carried out by the Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and hotly denied financing them. “That’s totally wrong. We don’t support the rebellion, we are not looking to destabilise Sudan. The opposite is true. We condemn and have already firmly condemned the rebel attack.”

Instead of quibbling over the origin of the attacks, Faki urged that the conflict in Darfur be resolved so as to stem the disastrous effects it is having on the surrounding region. “The issue of Darfur has to be resolved. The epicentre is Darfur, the consequences are waves that have spread to neighbouring countries. The sooner the Darfur conflict is resolved, the better it will be for everybody,” said Faki. He urged that a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission be accelerated. The 26,000-strong force is not yet fully manned because of a row over non-African contingents, with Sudan insisting that African options must be explored fully first.

“It’s high time the international community convinces Sudan to solve the Darfur problem. The hybrid force must be deployed,” said Faki. “Things do not seem to be advancing despite the fact that the consequences have largely gone beyond the borders of the original conflict.”

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The Publisher Korir, is the Chief Editor African Press International API

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