Cablegate: President Deby Acknowledges Guereda Insecurity

DE RUEHNJ #0257/01 0851225
R 261225Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. President Deby visited Guereda March 22 to deal
with ongoing Tama/Zaghawa conflict. In a meeting in Kounoungou
Refugee Camp, he acknowledged to refugees, local residents, and the
humanitarian community that there were indeed security problems, and
said that he would create a new brigade in the area to improve
security. The acknowledgement of the problem was well-received, but
was followed almost immediately by an attack on the Kounoungou
market (presumably by FUC forces), which injured nine people. End


2. (SBU) President Deby had last visited Guereda in December 2006.
In his meeting with UN agencies and NGOs, he heard complaints about
the lack of security in Kounoungou Refugee Camp and Guereda itself.
Deby summarily responded that there was no problem with security.
Events since then, including apparent targeting of humanitarian
operations, have made it clear that the security situation needed


3. (SBU) According to the UNHCR protection officer in Guereda, the
Kounoungou Refugee Camp, located 17 kilometers outside of the town
of Guereda, has serious security problems. This is attributed to the
fact that several different ethnic groups inhabit Kounoungou,
including Massariya who recently fled from Jebel Moon. The Zaghawa
represent some 46% and Tama some 25% of the camp's population.
Moreover, a number of Chadian Tama from the area fraudulently
obtained refugee status at the camp at the beginning of the refugee
inflow. Their relatives -- FUC members from the seven Tama villages
surrounding the camp -- routinely enter the camp to visit, and
harass the genuine refugees. (There is a formal Entry Control
Point, but the camp perimeter is neither fenced off nor patrolled).

4. (SBU) In December 2006, following a peace agreement between the
GoC and United Front for Change (FUC) leader Mahamat Nour, FUC
soldiers returned to Guereda. Due to problems integrating the
former FUC rebels into the Chadian National Army (ANT), the rebels
had been assigned to replace the ANT in Guereda. According to UNHCR
officials, they then started arming the Tamas in the villages
surrounding Kounoungou, and armed and recruited some Tama
"refugees." There had been an estimated 1,200 FUC soldiers prior to
the peace agreement, but the FUC ranks had now swelled to an
estimated 3,000-4,000 armed individuals. Misoffs heard that FUC
soldiers would routinely get drunk and then go to Kounoungou and
cause problems. The FUC soldiers were not disciplined or trained,
and reportedly included child soldiers. The Gendarmerie force
guarding both camps consists of 52 gendarmes with a total of
eight-twelve weapons.

5. (SBU) Waves of insecurity have been occurring for several
months. Starting near the end of January, there were shootings in
Guereda itself. On 28 February-1 March, fighting erupted nearby in
Birak between Tamas and Zaghawas. Misoffs were informed that the
ANT did not respond, but the FUC did, and reportedly fought both the
Tamas and the Zaghawas. Wounded Tamas were treated at the hospital
in Guereda, but Zaghawas were, and still are, afraid to come to the
hospital in Guereda (they go instead to Iriba). The International
Medical Committee (IMC), which runs the clinics at the refugee
camps, had at one time mobile clinic which visited local villages
but this clinic was stopped due to security concerns. On 5 March,
due to concern that humanitarians were being targeted, the UN and
some NGOs reduced their staffing by 17 people.

President Deby's March 2007 Visit

6. (U) President Deby arrived in Guereda on 22 March. At a meeting
originally called for March 24, but subsequently postponed until
March 25, he addressed crowd of a few thousand refugees and some
local villagers, plus humanitarian workers at a Chadian school a
short distance from the entrance to the Kounoungou Camp. He told
the crowd that he was aware of the details of security incidents in
the camps, and expressed his regrets over the killing of two
refugees. He paid homage to the gendarmes guarding camps and also
told the crowd that they should not bring Sudanese problems into the
camp, and that recruitment, arms, and Sudanese rebel activity were
not allowed, and that security would be improved. The sub-prefet,
rather than the new Prefet (a 29-year old Tama who had worked for
CARE's refugee program before joining the FUC), introduced the
president, and a representative of the refugee community also spoke
briefly. Deby spoke in French and his remarks were translated into

7. (SBU) President Deby, accompanied by his wife and the Interior
Minister, then met privately with the handful of UN and NGO
officials. Visiting PRM and S/CRS personnel also attended. Deby

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told them he knew that humanitarians were working under difficult
circumstances and that he was there to establish an additional
brigade to insure the security of the area. It would be based
outside the Kounoungou Camp but would enter it if necessary to
support the gendarmes. He encouraged the UN and NGOs to keep up
their work there. (Note. New vehicles for such a force were
already in Guereda according to the CNAR representative. End

8. (SBU) The UNHCR representative thanked President Deby for the
visit, but also pointed out that half the humanitarian workers had
been withdrawn since November 2006, and that everyone hoped security
would improve soon.

9. (SBU) The Interior Minister attempted to start a discussion
about UNHCR's projects on behalf of the local population (UNHCR has
dedicated five percent of its overall budget to projects to benefit
the local communities), but was cut off by the President. He
arranged to meet separately with the UN and NGOs on 26 March to
discuss that issue (Note: Most local projects, such as the mobile
clinics and Food For Work (FFW) programs, have been suspended on
security grounds. The five percent UNHCR set aside to benefit the
local communities is unique to Chad. End Note.)

Presumed FUC Response

10. (U) Shortly after President Deby left the area near the camp,
the UN and IMC received reports that some armed elements had
attacked refugees at the Sunday Kounoungou market place, and
kidnapped two people, who were later released. The initial report
was that six people had received gunshot wounds. However, the IMC
clinic at Kounoungou later reported nine victims had been treated,
but none for gunshot wounds. Three with head wounds were
transferred to Guereda Hospital. All humanitarians presumed that
the attack was by non-reconciled FUC elements angered by Deby's
speech and anxious to show that they would not be cowed.


11. (SBU) The security situation in the Kounoungou Camp and Guereda
remains poor. However, the fact that President Deby now
acknowledges that fact, and Sudanese and Chadian rebel recruitment
in the camp, is a positive development. Deby promised to stay in
Guereda until the security situation was put on track with the new
brigade in place. He was still there on March 26. Wall

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