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Dafur refugees decry Sudan’s ’interference’ in Chad


April 21, 2006 (N’DJAMENA) — About 200 Sudanese refugees on Friday staged a protest in N’Djamena against their government’s alleged support for a rebellion against Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno.

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Sudanese living in the Chadian capital burn an effegy of Sudanese President al-Bashir , Friday, April 21, 2006. (AP)

The protestors brandished banners reading "We salute Chad’s hospitality" and "Omar al-Beshir to The Hague" and burned a puppet of the Sudanese president Deby has accused of arming rebels who stormed N’Djamena last week.

Eastern Chad is home to some 200,000 refugees from ethnic fighting in Sudan, and humitarian groups say the latest instability in the host nation puts them at risk.

Deby last week threatened to expel the refugees, saying their camps have become a recruiting ground for rebels, before backing down.

"We are angry and we are scared. Beshir has sent mercenaries to Chad who are terrorising the refugee camps and who came here to N’Djamena to kill our Chadian brothers," said one of the protestors, Choumou Bakhit.

He said his 16-year-old son, Ahmad, had joined the rebel Chadian United Front for Change (FUC) and was killed in last week’s clashes with Deby’s soldiers.

"He was killed in the fighting in N’Djamena. I have buried him here," he said.

The United Nations office in N’Djamena received a delegation from the protest.

"We wanted to send a message to (UN Secretary General) Kofi Annan to denounce the involvement of the Sudanese government in the domestic affairs of Chad and ask him to ensure the safety of the refugee camps," Mahamat Salim said.

International observers support Deby’s claims that Sudan is backing the rebels, and say the uprising poses a serious threat to his regime and stability in the region.

The African Union (AU) has condemned the FUC but has yet to comment on Deby’s allegations that the group enjoys Sudanese backing, which Khartoum and the FUC both deny.

On Friday an AU fact-finding mission arrived in N’Djamena to look into last week’s FUC attack.

"We have come to gather as much information as possible in order for the AU (...) to start leading the way (...) out of the crisis", said Pierre Yere, the Ivorian diplomat who heads the five-member mission.


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