President of Chad Idriss Deby has enacted a national state of emergency due to the death of 50 people in the Sila and Ouaddai regions of this landlocked African country. Increased gun use among civilians due to an increase in supply from neighboring countries has perpetuated the loss of Chadians lives. These deaths were caused by violence that has gripped the area for years between settled farmers and traveling cattle herders. The stark number of deaths that have occurred just within the past nine days was cause for immediate military deployment to the region, which will remain ongoing for the next three months.
Deby’s declaration of a national state of emergency is the first crucial step needed to be taken in order to diminish the ethnic violence that plagues Chad. In addition to the military measures taken so far, a crucial component in eradicating the violence is to determine the root causes and tackle each individually. The economic instability that Chadians face along with the harsh climate and living conditions only adds fuel to the violence. Without heavy guidance and ruling from Chad’s government, the violence will not be resolved on its own.
The government cannot claim that their hands are completely clean with regards to these killings. Deby has continued to point fingers since this problem arose, blaming the ease of access to weapons from neighboring countries to be the main cause. Libya, the Central African Republic, and Sudan have all recently experienced an influx in gun supply, which have trickled into Chad along trade routes and across border lines. Deby stated, “We are witnessing a terrible phenomenon…Those with guns are not hesitating to shoot the police. We must wage a total war against those who carry weapons and are killing people”. Increase in supply has caused murder rates to soar and fear to run high.
Chad continually placing as one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world has only perpetuated this violence. With a struggling economy and underdeveloped job market, the majority of Chadians barely make ends meet by herding and farming. For years herders have moved their livestock through the Ouaddai region, which sedentary farmers believe causes disruption to their work. With neither side in a financial position to back down, violence will continue to mount in this region.
The diverse regional geography of Chad also poses difficulties to this developing country. The North, and most of Chad, is entirely desert. The Sudanian Savanna in the South is the only pocket that is able to provide limited agricultural fertility. Known as the “Dead Heart of Africa” for its distance between any ocean, the country’s predominantly desert climate proves difficult for basic survival, nonetheless success. Extreme drought and Chad’s steadily inclining population rate have only worsened the environment for those living there.
Moving forward I hope more emphasis is placed on the government’s hand in these killings and all of the ethnic violence that Chad faces. The responsibility lies with the government to reform their economic state in order to ease the tensions these farmers and herders face.
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