Instability in Chad

Chad, Central Africa

Chad faces a variety of complex challenges internally and externally. Some of these challenges are interconnected and are often exacerbated by internal divisions between government and anti-government forces.

Internally, Chad has witnessed various power struggles since gaining independence from France in 1960. Amongst various coup d’état’s, Idriss Déby took power in 1990, though has frequently been accused of committing brutal crackdowns on critics. The Chadian police have similarly been accused of unjustifiably detaining and shooting protesters in N’Djamena city and other areas around the country, whilst freedom of speech is extremely limited in the country. Idriss Déby has sought to extend his terms in office multiple times and has extended his own powers to do so.

Under such crackdowns and power struggles, Chad has also experienced various internal conflicts on ethnic, religious, and tribal grounds. Christian populations have historically been targeted, whilst ethnic groups compete for power, contributing to the wider social and political tensions seen in the country

As a landlocked nation, Chad relies on its natural resources, particularly oil, and has suffered from conflicts over natural resources. The farmer-herder conflict over land use, which is also seen in other Sahel countries, has been a central point of concern in the country. The tension surrounding the use and scarcity of land has also been worsened by conflicts externally occurring in neighbouring Sudan and the Central African Republic, which has resulted in Chad taking in huge numbers of refugees.

Externally, Chad has faced a history of conflict with neighboring countries. The long-lasting land dispute between Libya, although resolved in 1990, can still be felt today, with Chad closing its border with the country in 2018. Interference between the neighboring conflicts of Sudan and the Central African Republic has also caused tension. Militia from Sudan and Chad have often clashed with each other, resulting in the closing of borders, severely hampering diplomatic ties and impacting the conditions of refugees.

Chad also encounters threats from the Lake Chad Region, mostly caused by political instability and the rising threat of terrorism, notably Boko Haram. Chad is a key member of the Multinational Joint Task Force with Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger to combat this threat. International peacekeeping missions from the UN and EU and intervention by countries such as France have been active in the region to prevent the rise of jihadist groups and to protect refugees from neighboring countries. Some of these peacekeeping missions, however, namely MINURCAT, have been criticized for their performance in the region.

Following President Idriss Déby’s death on On 20 April 2021, as a result of wounds sustained during clashes with rebels, the military immediately suspended the constitution, formed Transitional Military Council (CMT), and named Déby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, as the new CMT president. The CMT has called on armed groups to engage in dialogue.

Key Facts


People killed

3 Million

People displaced

15.9 Million

Total population

Types of conflicts: Tribal, ethnic, religious, terrorism, herder-farmer

In need of humanitarian assistance: 5.3 million (UN estimates)

IDPs: 1 million (UN, 2022)

Refugees: 380,000 (UN, 2022)

Total number of new arrivals since 22 December: 6,386 

Refugee returnees: 100,000

The Key Actors

The Situation

Classification: Humanitarian crisis

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Throughout 2021, the Chadian military have engaged in conflcit with rebels operating in the Northern area of the country. Although claiming victory, the conflict resulted in the death of President Idriss Deby.

Timeline of Events

France defeats al-Zubayr’s army in the battle of Kousséri originated based in the Chari- Baguirmi region. In 1899–1900, the French organized three armed columns, one proceeding north from congo, one east from Niger, and another south from Algeria. The objective was to link all French possessions in Western Africa, and this was achieved April 21, 1900 on the right bank of the Chari in what is now Chad opposite Kousseri, in what today is northern Cameroon

With the French conquest of Chad complete, Chad becomes a colony within French Equatorial Africa. During the Second World War, Chad supported the Free French cause. After 1945, the territory was shared in the constitutional advance of French Equatorial Africa.

Adolphe-Félix-Sylvestre Éboué is elected as the first black Governor of a French colony.

The banning of political parties triggers violent opposition in the north, led by the Chadian National Liberation Front, or Frolinat. President Tombalbaye, a member of the Sara tribe (Christians and animists) of southern Chad, suppressed Muslim political parties and leaders, resulting in increasing opposition to the government among the dozens of non-Sara ethnic groups in the country. The violence resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians and one government soldier. President Tombalbaye lifted the state-of-emergency on September 21, 1963. 

Northern revolt develops into a fully-fledged guerrilla war. The Front for the National Liberation of Chad (Frolinat) was established in 1966 and operated primarily in the north from its headquarters at the southern Libyan oasis of Al-Kufrah, while the smaller Chad National Front (FNT) operated in the east-central region. Both groups aimed at the overthrow of the existing government, the reduction of French influence in Chad, and closer association with the Arab states of North Africa

Libya sends in troops to support Oueddei in his fight against the Army of the North, led by a former prime minister, Hissene Habre.

Habré’s rulership was full of widespread political killings, systematic torture, thousands of arbitrary arrests, and the targeting of particular ethnic groups. Clément Abaifouta, president of the Association of Victims of the Crimes of Hissène Habré’s Regime (AVCRHH), said “We lived in constant fear,”. As a political prisoner during Habré’s rule he was forced to dig graves to bury other detainees in prison. 

The combined troops of Frolinat and the Chadian Government, with French and US assistance, force Libya out of the entire northern region apart from the Aouzou strip and parts of Tibesti.

France (along with Libya and Sudan) gave extensive support to the successful coup d’état attempt. France has supported Déby from being ousted from office and they keep a military presence in the country.

The Truth Commission established was led by a distinguished former judge. He estimated that Habré’s government was responsible for more than 40,000 deaths throughout his leadership.

The results of the multi-party presidential elections result in Deby winning with a landslide victory

The Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad, led by Deby’s former Defence Minister, Youssouf Togoimi, begins an armed rebellion against the government in a bit to control power.

The Senegalese court upholds the ruling that former Chadian President Habre should not be made to stand trial in Senegal, where he is in exile. The main reason for this decision is that Senegal’s courts do not have the jurisdiction to try Habre on torture charges during his eight years in power in Chad.


The results from the controversial presidential poll confirmed Deby as the new president

The Chadian Government and Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) rebels sign a Libyan-brokered peace deal intended to end the three-year civil war.

The unexpected class between the MDJT rebels and government forces in the far north; 64 are killed in the first outbreak of fighting since January’s peace accord.

Government signs peace deal with National Resistance Army (ANR) rebels, active in the east

Thousands of Sudanese refugees arrive in Chad to escape fighting in Darfur region of western Sudan.

Chadian troops clash with pro-Sudanese government militias as fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region spills over the border.

Rebels seeking to oust President Deby battle government forces on the outskirts of the capital. Hundreds of people are killed. Thus, Chad accuses Sudan of backing the rebels by breaking all diplomatic relations.

President Deby is declared the winner of the presidential elections. The main opposition parties boycott the poll causing further instability.

The Parliament decided to open an oil state company called, the Societe des Hydrocarbures du Tchad (SHT), which is expected to give Chad greater control over its energy assets.

State of emergency imposed in eastern areas bordering Sudan’s Darfur region after a spate of ethnic violence.

UN refugee agency warns that violence against civilians in Chad could turn into genocide.

European Union approves a peacekeeping force for Chad to protect refugees from violence in Darfur.

The presidents of Chad and Sudan sign an accord in Senegal aimed at halting five years of hostilities between the two countries.

Security forces say they killed more than 70 followers of Muslim spiritual leader Bichara, who had threatened to launch a holy war, in fighting in southeast Chad.

The new rebel alliance, the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), with Rally of Democratic Forces has Timan Erdimi as its leader.

President Deby and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir, hold talks in Sudanese capital Khartoum, in their first meeting for six years; President al-Bashir says his country is ready for full normalisation of ties with Chad.

Chad-Sudan border reopens seven years after Darfur conflict forced its closure.

MINURCAT withdrew 4,375-strong force in stages by the end of 2010 as per the request from the Chadian government. It was initially deployed in 2009 to protect hundreds of thousands of displaced Chadians and refugees from the Sudanese province of Darfur. However, Amnesty International warned that the UN decision could endanger thousands of refugees in the region.

UN Security Council votes to withdraw Minurcat peacekeeping force from Chad and the Central African Republic deployed to protect displaced Chadians and refugees from Sudan’s Darfur.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir travels to Chad to attend a meeting of regional leaders – defying two warrants for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court.

Presidential election, boycotted by opposition resulted to President Idriss Deby is declared winner.

Following a UN appeal, Senegal decides to suspend the planned repatriation of former President Hissene Habre to his homeland, where he has been sentenced to death for crimes against humanity while president from 1982-1990.

President Deby calls on countries neighboring northern Nigeria to set up a joint military force to tackle Boko Haram militants. He warns the Islamists could destabilize the whole Lake Chad basin area if a joint force is not formed.

Chad agrees to send more troops to the Central African Republic to help stabilise it after a recent coup. Chadian forces have been present in the east of the country for several months as peacekeepers.

Several people including an opposition MP and army officers are arrested in an alleged coup plot.

This arrest, Investigators claim is to seek to put him on trial for crimes against humanity. Mr Habre went to Senegal after being ousted in 1990. Rights groups say an estimated 40,000 people were killed under his rule.

Chad denies claims that its troops have violated their peacekeeping role in the Central African Republic by colluding with some rebels.

At a meeting in London, Chad is one of four African countries which pledge to honor a ten-year moratorium on sales of ivory, as part of efforts to curb the illegal trade.

Chad will withdraw its troops from an African Union peacekeeping mission, MISCA, in the Central African Republic, a setback to attempts to build a large international force to stem religious conflict in the impoverished country.

The attack left 30 civilians dead and seriously wounded more than 300 in an open market on March 29 in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has announced the country’s border with the Central African Republic has been closed pending an end to intercommunal violence there that has killed thousands and forced nearly one million people to flee their homes.

French President François Hollande visits Chad. France maintains an air force base at the N’Djamena International Airport where it has launched humanitarian and counter-terrorism missions to the Central African Republic, Mali, and Niger.

France says it is to set up a new military operation in the Sahel region in an effort to stop the emergence of jihadist groups. The operation based in the Chadian capital N’Djamena will involve around 3,000 French troops, along with troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad.

Boko Haram take place near the Chadian shore of Lake Chad one month after the country pledges military support for Cameroon against the Islamist armed group.

Extraordinary African Chamber court orders Hissene Habre to stand trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is in custody in Senegal, where the court will sit in the first use of universal jurisdiction in Africa.

Seven former security officers jailed for life, five in absentia, and another three to 20 years of hard labor for torturing prisoners during the rule of Hissene Habre.

At least 37 people died in the Baga Sola explosions from the suicide attackers, which some reports put at five. Witnesses reported hearing three blasts, one at the busy fish market and two at the refugee camp.

Chad has declared a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region after attacks by Boko Haram militants from Nigeria killed at least two people in a suspected suicide bomb attack.

President Deby announces he will run for the fifth term of office in the April presidential election.

Ex-leader Hissene Habre is found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison by an African Union-backed court in Senegal.

Reports from Crisis Group confirm that 100,000 people have been displaced and 7000 have become refugees due to attacks from Boko Haram.

President Deby announces that parliamentary elections due this year have been postponed, claiming that the country lacks the financial means of holding them.

Nine soldiers are killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants on a military post near the border with Nigeria.

The European Union has agreed to give more than 50m euros to fund a new African joint military force in the Sahel region. The force will be made up of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Niger, known as the Sahel G-5.

The rights group Amnesty International accuses the government of a brutal and growing crackdown on its critics.

Hissène Habré is believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, having fled the country in 1990, but not before emptying the treasury of $150m (£108m). In 2016, a Senegalese court convicted him of crimes against humanity and ordered him to pay $153m (£110m) in compensation to 7,396 victims.

The European Union has announced it is doubling its financial contribution to a security force mounted by the five countries of the Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, promised the extra $61m (£44m) at the start of an international donor conference in Brussels attended by 50 nations. She also highlighted the need for development funds in the region, where the EU is investing nearly $10bn in its seven-year plan until 2020.

President Idriss Deby is set to govern Chad until 2033 if a recommendation made by his party is approved. A report issued by allied politicians, business leaders, and traditional chiefs has proposed a presidential term limit for the country’s leaders from 2021.

The International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO) recorded 896 incidents in the Lake Chad Basin region including kidnappings, attacks, roadblocks and bombings.

French warplanes have carried out fresh attacks in Chad on what the military says is a heavily armed convoy that arrived from Libya and could be attempting to topple the Deby government. The French military, acting at the request of the Chadian army, says it is trying to prevent the destabilization of the country but civil society organizations denounce these strikes as illegitimate. France says its fighter jets have destroyed 20 out of 50 pickup trucks.

Chad’s military said it had captured more than 250 rebels during an operation against militants crossing from Libya. Within the large number included “four leaders” who had been detained. 40 of the rebels’ vehicles had been destroyed and hundreds of weapons had been seized. France, which provides military support to Chad, used warplanes this week to attack the convoy in the.

Chad’s Defence Minister General Daoud Yaya Brahim says 400 rebels have surrendered and crossed over to Chad from their base in Libya.

Security sources in Chad say at least 23 soldiers have been killed by Boko Haram jihadists. The attack occurred in Dangdala near Lake Chad, an area where Boko Haram has been active.

An estimated 35 people have been reported dead since May 16 in separate incidents across the Sila and Ouaddai provinces of eastern Chad. A Chadian prosecutor reported arresting thirty alleged perpetrators of the violence. 

One of Chad’s main rebel leaders has been arrested in Paris in connection with alleged crimes against humanity. The exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), General Mahamat Nouri, is accused of committing crimes in Sudan between 2005 and 2010.

Security forces have surrounded the Ouaddaï Royal Palace in Chad’s eastern town of Abéché to prevent possible demonstrations after President Idriss Déby’s appointment of a new sultan for the area. The opposition accuses the government of interfering in tradition as the new sultan, Chérif Abdelhadi Mahdi, is not related to his predecessor.

In two eastern provinces, a state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions where 50 people have died since August 9.

At least 37 individuals have been killed amid fresh inter-communal clashes in northeast Chad between farmers and camel herders, Anadolu Agency News reported. 

Closing the border with Sudan in the eastern section of the country, President Idriss Deby declared a three-month state of emergency as a result of clashes between herders and farmers that left more than 109 people dead.

A state of emergency was declared on the northeastern province of Tibesti on Libya’s southern border. The arid mountainous terrain has long provided hideouts for Chadian rebels and attracts illegal gold diggers. 

Another 11 people were reported dead from a clash between farmers and herders in Moyen- Chari, Chad.

The state of emergency – which covers three provinces – follows an increase in inter-communal clashes in Ouaddai and Sila, in eastern Chad, and fighting between self-defence groups, rebel forces, and the national army around gold mines in the north. Chad’s President Idriss Déby announced that 5,000 troops would be deployed to the affected provinces, and effectively gave them the power to kill those deemed troublemakers – a plan rights groups say amounts to a “call to massacre civilians”.”If fighting persists between Arabs and (local) Ouaddaians … you shoot 10 from each side to save the majority,” Déby said.

Fourteen people were killed and 13 were missing after Boko Haram jihadists attacked a fishing village in western Chad on Tuesday, government officials said.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), more than 37,500 people have lost their lives.

The UN refugee agency’s report shows the gravity and migration of Nigerians into Chad.

Chad’s parliament voted on Tuesday to extend a state of emergency by four months in three provinces where fighting between rival ethnic groups have surged in recent weeks. The state of emergency is in place in the western Tibesti region bordering Niger and the eastern Sila and Ouaddai regions bordering Sudan. It was first declared by Chad’s Council of Ministers on Aug. 19.

Chad’s parliament on Tuesday extended by three months a state of emergency in three eastern regions hit by rebel violence and deadly inter-communal clashes. President Idriss Deby had declared a state of emergency for three months in the Sila and Ouaddai regions bordering Sudan, where more than 50 people died that month in fighting between Arab cattle herders and settled farmers.  He also declared a state of emergency in Tibesti, near the frontier with lawless Libya, from where illegal miners and rebels operate. The emergency is accompanied by a provincial curfew, a ban on riding motorbikes — which are often used for hit-and-run attacks — and a closure of Chad’s borders with Sudan and Libya. The vote was passed on Tuesday by 115 lawmakers.

These people were killed on an island on Lake Chad, bordering Cameroon and Chad. The militants, disguised as traders, attacked fishermen.

Chad’s government lifts the five-month state of emergency in the north and the east of the country, hailing a campaign to disarm civilians and quell deadly ethnic violence between farmers and herders from rival ethnic groups.

“10,000 weapons of all calibres have been recovered,” Defence Minister Mahamat Abali Sala announced that the state of emergency “has reached its objectives”.

President Idriss Déby said the attack early on Monday was the deadliest yet in the five-year campaign by the Islamists. He has been visiting the site in western Chad, close to the borders with Niger and Nigeria.

Chad has imposed a state of emergency in parts of the west of the country, following an attack by Islamist militants Boko Haram which killed more than 90 soldiers.

Chad will be excluded from participating in the Lake Chad region and the Sahel. The national army campaigns against armed groups will be active only within Chad. The army claimed that 1,000 fighters had been killed in the operation but fifty-two of the army’s troops were also killed.

Chad’s government says its army will continue to participate in joint military operations against militant jihadist groups across the region, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.

Forty-four suspected Boko Haram militants in Chad have died in detention from apparent poisoning, the country’s public prosecutor says. The men were part of a group of 58 suspects captured during a recent major army operation against the Islamist group around Lake Chad.

At least eight soldiers have been killed in Chad when their vehicle struck a landmine laid by suspected jihadists. The blast occurred at Kalam in the Lake Chad region. Security sources claim that at least 10 other soldiers were wounded in the blast.

The honor was given to him during the celebration of the country’s 60th anniversary of independence from France. It is the highest military rank in the country. The parliamentary speaker explained it was in recognition of him leading an offensive against Boko Haram jihadists in April.

At least ten people have been killed in recent fighting between herders and farmers in southern Chad, a local prosecutor said Sunday, with most of the deaths happening during a funeral.

Boko Haram fighters killed 6 Chadian soldiers. These deadly jihadist attacks against civilians and security forces are on the rise, the army claims.

8,437 individuals (2,518 households) have been registered, among which 5,941 people (1,755 households) have already settled in the Doholo camp

Around 2,500 people remain at the border, but the Doholo camp has now reached its maximum capacity and is unable to host new arrivals. 

The Gondje camp -12 kms north of Goré, which hosts refugees arrived in 2003- is being expanded to host the rest of the new refugees

In Lake Chad province (west), a Boko Haram attack leaves 26 soldiers killed in the Tchoukoutalia area; in response, Mahamat Déby on the next day said soldiers’ death is a “reminder of the security challenges” at the border.

In the central Hadjer Lamis province, farmer-herder clashes leave at least 23 dead and at least 20 wounded in Kharadja village.

UN humanitarian affairs agency revealed a total of 24 incidents of intercommunal violence in Jan-July, with over 300 dead and 6,000 displaced.

The Transitional Military Council (CMT) showed signs of openness ahead of national dialogue scheduled for Nov-Dec. The CMT head Mahamat Idriss Déby called on armed groups to join dialogue, with the government later by clarifying “outstretched hand” to armed groups included Libya-based Chadian rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT)

The PM Pahimi Padacké appointed 70 members of the Organising Committee for National Dialogue (CODNI), including main opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo as deputy chairperson.

President Déby appoints 28 key figures of late President Déby’s regime, including 12 army generals, as members of technical committee on participation of politico-military leaders. He is faced with severe criticisms from the opposition party and the civil society relating to the national dialogue.

Coordinator of New Front for Change Yaya Dillo confirms his political party will not participate in “sham dialogue”

The opposition leader Felix Romadoumngar resigns from CODNI to lead the wider opposition movement’s engagement in dialogue.

The N’Djamena government announces the recall of 600 out of 1,200 soldiers from the G5 Sahel force operating in the tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger citing “strategic redeployment” to better respond to the jihadist threat.

Former President Hissène Habré died in Senegal, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes committed during his 1982-1990 rule.

The leader of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) agrees to take part in the dialogue.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) and Chad rebel forces clashed in the south of Libya. The fighting follows a history of instability in the Sahel region. The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) stated that it is fighting alongside Sudanese mercenaries against the LNA.

Larry faced accusations of defamation following a complaint by N’Djamena mayor Ali Haroun. Larry spent a month in preventive detention before his acquittal by a court on March 3rd, 2022.

Following the arrest of Olivier Memnguie, there were multiple clashes between protestors and security forces. 

The Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), a coalition of the militaries of Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger stated that they “neutralised” at least “20 terrorists” between April 27 and April 29. The stated goal of the MJTF is to “destroy Boko Haram and other terrorist groups which plague the basin.”

The protest, organized by Chadian civil society coalition Wakit Tamma, was broken up by Chadian police who fired tear gas and used water cannons against protestors. Protestors denounce France for its support of Interim President Idriss’s military council. 

Protests were located in the capital N’Djamena, and protestors stated that they were seeking “a transition to civilian rule”. Protestors denounced the perceived French support for the transitional military rule. Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was ratified by Chad in 1986, guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. Further protests planned by Wakit Tamma for May 28, 2022, were prohibited by the Minister of Security and Immigration for “reasons of public order”.

The trial of the six Wakit Tama members is set to start on June 6th, 2022. The Chadian Bar Association protested their arrests, and the Union des syndicats du Tchad (Trade Unions of Chad) organised a strike in protest of the arrest of the Wakit Tama members.

Interim President Mohamad Idris Deby’s father, former President Idriss Deby, was killed while visiting troops fighting an armed uprising in the north. Deby asserted himself as head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) after his father’s death in April 2021. The TMC stated that it would oversee an 18-month transition to democratic rule. However, the new dialogue date puts the talks closer to the election timeline. 

The head of the UN Refugee Agency, Filippo Grandi, finished his Chad visit this weekend. He maintains his demand for more extraordinary humanitarian and development support.   This is because Chad is one of UNHCR’s most extensive operations in the region, and it hosts 580,000 refugees from conflicts in neighboring Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon. 

Interim President Mohamad Idris Deby set the date of talks for August 20th, which angered rebels. These pre-talks are meant to take place in Doha, Qatar. Rebel groups, such as the Popular Front for National Renaissance (FPRN) believe that the government’s moves are meant to exclude rebels from talks. 

The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) has repeatedly stated that it will not sign the peace deal. However, 42 of 27 rebel groups present at the talks have indicated their commitment to signing the peace deal. 

Timan Erdimi, a prominent rebel leader and head of the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), was exiled from Chad in 2005. In his absence, UFR attempted to overthrow Chad’s former president Idriss Deby in 2008 and 2019. Erdimi is arriving in Chad ahead of the ‘national dialogue” talks. Derby has stated that the forum will pave the way for “free and democratic” elections, as urged by the African Union. National dialogue follows the signing of a ceasefire by 40 groups on August 8th. Several rebel groups, including the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) have accused the talks of being “skewed in advance”. 

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