The Chadian authorities have arrested 57 refugees from Bredjing camp in eastern Chad in the wake of Monday’s violence, which claimed the lives of six camp sheikhs and injured 17 others.
Mob violence broke-out on Monday in Bredjing camp, that houses mainly Darfuri refugees near Adré in eastern Chad. The camp is experiencing a shortage of food since the decision of the humanitarian organisations to stop the food rations of some 2,000 refugees out of 43,000 in the camp based on the inventory of the food cards on the pretext that they are capable of providing for themselves.
Sheikh Ali Yagoub, head of the Treguine refugee camp, located near Bredjing camp, explained to Radio Dabanga that in a meeting with donor organisations, the head of Bredjing camp, Dahiya Ismail, agreed to the distribution of food according to the inventory of organisations similar to the rest of the camps. Some refugees considered this a concession by the head of the camp and the sheikhs, as well as an acceptance of the idea of voluntary return.
On Sunday a number of refugees then attacked the homes of the sheikhs and head of Bredjing camp and broke in after hearing rumours that they agreed to a visit of a Sudanese government delegation to the camp. The community leaders fled to the protection centre of the camp.
The mob followed them these and set fire to the centre, forcing them to abandon it, after which they were beaten and stabbed with sticks and edged weapons, leaving six leaders dead and 17 injured.
Ali Yagoub, the head of Treguine camp, told Radio Dabanga that 57 refugees have already been arrested by the Chadian authorities. The Cah police force are also engaged in a manhunt for more suspects.
He said that the governor of Bembere province and two native administration leaders have been staying at the nearby Bredjing camp since Monday.
Yagoub said the Chadian authorities have transferred the 57 arrested suspects to Abeche prison and questioned them.
He added that all of the injured are reported out of danger – hospital officials describe their conditions as ‘improved’ and ‘stabilised’.
Return plan for refugees
Since 2003, Chad has been hosting over half a million refugees from neighbouring countries deeply affected by fragile security situations, including more than 300,000 Sudanese refugees who reside in camps in eastern Chad.
In April this year, the first large-scale voluntary returns from Chad took place when the UNHCR and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) assisted dozens of Sudanese refugees from Chad in their return to Kabkabiya, Saraf Omra and Karnoi. The operation is planned to continue in December.
In the past months Sudan has proposed plans for the return of displaced families to their areas of origin, or integrate them into other residential areas. North Darfur state recently approved a plan to turn three camps for displaced people into permanent residential areas for 45,000 families.