Sudan Instability Pushes Refugees to Chad


René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

26 May 2023 – Media attention has been largely focused on the armed conflict in the capital Khartoum between the rival generals Abdel Fattah al-Burham, Chief of the Army, and Mohamed Hamdam Daglo, better known by his battle name “Hemetti”, Chief of the Rapid Support Forces.  There has been the evacuation of personnel from the diplomatic embassies and refugee flows toward Egypt and South Sudan.

The current armed conflict has also had an impact on the unstable area of Darfur, western Sudan. Officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that in the last couple of weeks some 60,000 persons from Darfur have crossed the frontier into Chad which lacks the resources and infrastructure to deal adequately with this refugee flow.

Darfur (meaning the home of the Fur) is an area about the size of France but with a scattered population of some six million people, divided between camel and cattle-raising groups and the settled subsistence agriculture of indigenous tribes of the area such as the Fur and the Masalites.  Darfur has been largely outside the development activities of Sudan’s governments.  It has a weak economy and a lack of social services.

This lack of development and of social services led to an outbreak of violence in 2003, which has caused the death of some 300,000 and the displacement of some three million.  In February 2004, the Association of World Citizens raised the critical situation in Darfur in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and has tried to follow the evolution of the situation since.  (1)

The political and economic situation in Chad has also been violent and unstable for a long time. Camel and cattle-raising tribes from Chad have traditionally moved into Darfur and vise-versa.  There were frontiers between tribes, but they did not correspond to State boundaries.  However, the current refugee flow from Darfur into Chad is of much greater magnitude.  The government of Chad is unable to deal adequately with the situation.

It is difficult to know how long the struggle for power between the generals will go on and how the struggle will impact different parts of the country.  A dangerous situation which must be watched closely.  We must hope that some of the mediation proposals already made can lead to a halt to the violence.


1) For a good account of the start of the Darfur conflicts see: Julie Flint and Alex de Wall, Darfur: A Short History of a Long War (London: Zed Books, 2005).


René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 May 2023.

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