As of March 2020, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 465,000 refugees in Chad. About 75% of Chad refugees have come from Sudan, originally fleeing violence in the Darfur region that started in 2003. Others have come from the Central African Republic after civil war outbreaks in 2013 and 2017. Yet others are from Nigeria, where The Islamic State of the West African Province, more commonly known as Boko Haram, has been killing killed tens of thousands, displacing millions of people, damaging the country’s economy, and devastating thousands of communities.
To read the most recent Fact Sheet from the UNHCR on the situation in Chad Click Here.
The Darfur conflict in Sudan eventually led in 2011 to the division of the Republic of Sudan into two separate countries: The Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan. Despite the divide, ongoing conflict continued in the region. This is not a religious conflict; all parties are in fact Muslim. This is a racial conflict between fair skinned Arabs who live in the north of the territory and the black indigenous population who live in the South. The Arab population considered the uprising in 2003 by the southerners to be a threat to their control of the Darfur region.
The ongoing conflict escalated in December 2019 after an internally displaced persons camp was attacked in El Geneina, the capital of Darfur. The violent conflict resulted in a massive influx of Darfuri refugees fleeing across the border into eastern Chad, exactly as they did 15 years ago. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that this by the end of March 2020, over 50,000 new refugees will have fled into to Chad. Most of the refugees that have recently fled Sudan are women, children, or elderly. Their stories of escape from Sudan are eerily similar to those of the refugees who arrived in 2003: villages, farms, animals, families were attacked, and many burned to the ground.
Due to the continued cycle of conflict, there is little hope for Sudanese refugees to return to their home. Returning refugees risk persecution, including torture, arbitrary incarceration and denial of humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian community has begun to transition their efforts from emergency protection to ensuring the self-reliance of refugees and integration into the local community. There are currently 12 refugee camps along the border of Eastern Chad and Sudan. Many of the Sudanese refugees in these Chad camps have been there since the original genocide occurred in 2003.