Tchad, compared with Mali has been very
quiet this period, at least in the south. But the economic situation
there is giving increasing concern given the continuing low
price of oil, an issue which is facing many other oil producing
There are a steady series of articles about the situation, including
curiously some from other African countries news sources. All
have their point of view. But even the president has pointed
out how much he has been spending on counter terrorism (500m$),
and how he has had to cut back on civil servants benefits and
he now has a budget deficit of some 550m$ out of a GNP of 9.6B$
(less than Mali).
The dispute with Glencore and its participation in the Tchad
oil industry rubbles on, and is of impenetrable complexity,
with totally varying and occasionally contradictory reports.
The parliamentary deputies of Tchad whose mandate expired some
time ago are still in place due to a position of the president
that elections are not economically viable.
Of course every country has issue with the probity of its officials,
and Tchad is no exception. In this period the press reports
included two ministers dismissed, and some 110m$ recovered by
In addition, the dispute with the unions rumbles on and on with
the occasional strike and demonstration mainly in the capital,
N’Djamena as it has for nearly two years.
In the east there are still a large number of refugees. Some
are planning to return due to the ameliorated conditions in
Sudan, but there are still 400,000 reported in camps by the
UN. There are also 100,000 in the south near the CAR and 100,000
in the Lake Tchad area as refugees from Boko Harem from which
there are still occasional deadly raids and kidnapping despite
the military successes against them earlier this year.
Indeed as the period ended there was a report of an ambush just
over the border in Nigeria with some 80 plus casualties.
In this period a most interesting study was published about
northern Tchad which demonstrated that a lot of violent incidents,
particularly with regard to gold prospective activity in the
north and central Tchad was just not being reported in the normal
press nor African sources.
The reference details of this report are listed at the end of
this news summary. This report paints a rather different picture
of the recent activity in Northern Tchad, which on the surface
has been quiet for several years.
The one hostage taken in the east of Tchad in the last period
was freed and returned to Tchad from Sudan. It is not clear
if a ransom was paid. No new hostages were reported in this
The news this period has been full of regular reports of migrants
either being rescued or found dead in the desert trying to go
northward to Libya or Algeria. Some are on the conventional
route via Dirkou and some on the route to southern Algeria via
Arlit despite the fact that the border is reported effectively
closed most days of the week.
The reports are all vague and indicate that some trucks carrying
migrant are avoiding normal routes (presumably because of checkpoints).
The statistics on this traffic are not clear. Some are in fact
contradictory: for example one states that most of the people
leaving Niger are Niger nationals (who by this definition are
not migrants till they leave Niger). But the statistics of arrivals
into Libya in another source state that the majority are Nigerian.
Not Nigerien. The traffic could be increasing or decreasing.
But whatever it is deadly. The number of deaths from this traffic
reported in the press rivals that from the conflict in Mali.
More details of the individual prospector gold mining in the
north near the Algerian border are emerging and confirming that
whilst these activities near Djado have been stopped, and are
now being done by approved commercial enterprises, those near
Algeria are still an open territory. The details vary and the
amount of gold reported recovered seems surprisingly large.
This prospecting has to a large extent been made possible by
the new generation of metal detectors available at a reasonable
There are ongoing but sporadic demonstrations against the current
government in Niamey and regular complaints from the opposition
parties claiming unconstitutional treatment.
Bolo Harem raids continue in the Diffa area in the south east
of the country near Lake Tchad, despite the military success
against Boko Harem further south. Unfortunately these raids
are not all that Niger has to endure. There are also raids from
groups in the south west near Burkina Faso and also some raids
in the north west from groups coming over the border from Mali.
There are of course still many refugees near the Mali border
and numerous displaced people near Diffa in the south east.
There are claims that the Niger military sometimes does not
distinguish correctly between Boko Haram rebels and refugees.
To make matters worse during this period were reported two disease
outbreaks: of hepatitis and meningitis respectively. And then
there were floods. About 200 people were affected in Agades.
No new hostages were taken in Niger in this period.
Again, I regret that I cannot report positive news on Mali.
The north of this country still has continual violent and deadly
clashes of one type or another, almost every week, and the focus
of these clashes is moving southwards and spilling over into
Niger. The majority of these clashes are attacks by Islamic
rebel groups against the Mali government forces or installations,
but some are inter rebel group or inter militia clashes. The
statistics reported in one source estimate some 600 deaths so
far this year.
The attacks have spread even to the capital area Bamako, and
there have also been some attacks from rebel groups across the
border in Burkina Faso.
There have been some widely reported integration and confidence
building moves between the secular rebels and the government
in the north, but the end results on the ground seem meagre.
Macron, the new French president has made no less than two visits
to Mali since taking over. He has pledged continued French support:
but will it have any long term effect?
A plan was announced by the president of Mali, (the so called
IBK) to spend large sums of money in the north. A figure of
3B$ was quoted, but the time period was unclear. This, from
a country with a GNP of less than 14B? Perhaps they hope to
get overseas donors to pitch in? In the past such initiatives
have proved to be phantoms, and the funds do not arrive or are
not spent appropriately.
There are still a large number of displaced people after the
revolts of 2012. The UN reports:
* 57,000 In Mali
* 50,000 in Mauritania
* 25,000 in Burkina
* 55,000 in Niger
And the reduction rate of these refugee camps is now minimal.
The recent upsurge in violence has stopped returnees. Meanwhile
the GDP of Mali has stopped growing after a spurt in the 2010
period: a common issue across much of West Africa, both Tchad
and Niger have the same issue.
No new hostages were taken in Mali in this period.
Some good news at last. One of the two long term hostages, the
Swede Johan Gustafsson was released. His co-hostage, Steven
McGowan, remains in captivity: over 2000 days and rising....
The release of the Swede even made it to the mainstream BBC
His release came suddenly, just after a report that the African
charity “Gift of the Givers “ had given up, having
made no progresses except to reduce the ransom demand , and
had met with an intermediary in Qatar earlier in the year to
no effect, and had appealed to the head of Qatar for assistance.
There was also a video released via Gulf sources of the remaining
long term hostages, including an appeal from Steven McGowan
Hostages left in captivity are:
* French: Sophie Pétronin
* South African: Steven McGowan
* Australian: Ken Elliott
* Swiss: Beatrice Stockly
* Columbian: Gloria Nevarez
* Romanian: Iulian Ghergut,
Curiously there was no news and specifically no mention in the
video about the other hostages released in earl July about the
hostage from Niger, Jeffery Woodke taken from near Abalak last
year, probably by another rebel or Islamic group. His wife made
a video appeal in July just for the kidnappers to contact her.
The lack of any contact is alarming.
In addition to western hostages, there are also a number of
Mali hostages taken by various Al Qaeda groups. But reports
on these hostages are limited. I cannot even confirm a number.
“Tubu Trouble: State and Statelessness in the Chad–
By Jérôme Tubiana and Claudio Gramizzi
A co-publication of the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security
Baseline Assessment for Sudan and South Sudan and the Security
Assessment in North Africa with Conflict Armament Research
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