As people commemorated U.N. World Refugee Day on Friday, a new humanitarian crisis was quietly brewing in the backyard of another, far more widely known crisis. In southern Chad, just a few hundred miles from camps housing a quarter-million Darfuri refugees, some 60,000 displaced persons from Central African Republic, having fled a growing civil conflict in their own country, have been moved to a cluster of new U.N. camps.
The Central Africans’ plight is widely overlooked in the as a result of the intense focus on the five-year-old civil war in Sudan’s Darfur region and the hundreds of thousands of refugees that that conflict has created. “It’s totally ignored,” one U.N. aid official in Abeche, in eastern Chad, said of the Central African problem. The official spoke on condition on anonymity.
The current Central African conflict is just the latest in a 15-year cycle of violence as the Texas-sized country, one of the poorest in the world, emerges from decades of dictatorial rule. This month the U.N.’s Peacebuilding Commission added Chad to its short list of countries that warrant greater international aid.