Eufor troops are deployed in eastern Chad, a very unstable region that shares a border with the war-stricken Sudanese province of Darfur. FRANCE 24 special correspondents in Chad, Nicolas Germain and Virginie Herz, report from the field.
When Eufor's polish battalion goes to collect water outside Iriba in eastern Chad, it often falls upon one of the rebel groups sprawling across the region.
One rebel asks what the European soldiers are doing here, to which a Polish officer answers that everything is fine and that there is nothing to worry about.
The encounter is brief and the rebels leave without being controlled.
They belong to the RFC, one of the rebel factions that attacked the capital in February, but which is now taking part in talks to reintegrate the Chadian army.
As a Polish officer explains, Eufor’s role is to remain neutral concerning Chad's internal affairs. Eufor can only intervene if an armed faction threatens civilians. The aim of its patrols is to dissuade attacks and protect the 400,000 displaced Chadians and Sudanese refugees settled in the region.
Refugees currently live in camps, but Eufor is not allowed to enter them. This means it cannot prevent rebels from recruiting young teenagers inside the camps.
Near Goz Beida, where the Irish battalion is based, the Djabal camp hosts refugees from Darfur. Most arrived here five years ago and have little hope of returning to their villages any time soon.
“We would like to return to our homes in Sudan but the situation is still unstable there," explains one refugee. "Every day there are killings and rapes”.
Eufor was set up to stop the conflict in Darfur from spreading across the border into eastern Chad. But today the real problem in the region is banditry, and Eufor doesn't have a mandate to arrest robbers.
Date created : 2008-09-28