The Small War in Eastern Chad

Letter From Dar Sila

Dar Sila, Chad. Jerome Tubiana

Between 2003 and 2008, while the war in Darfur raged on next door, Dar Sila, in eastern Chad, faced a devastating conflict of its own, one that simmers on today. It became the main theater of a proxy war between Chad and Sudan, which each used rebels and Janjawid Arab militias to destabilize the other’s regime. It was one of those African “small wars” that the world noticed too late and for not very long.

In 2003, Dar Sila absorbed some 50,000 Darfurians fleeing the violence across the border, but the refugees were not the only ones to come through. Backed by Khartoum, Janjawid Arab militias followed as well, pillaging far and wide across Dar Sila. These militias found local allies among the Chadian Arab population and also among like-minded non-Arabs who, beginning in the 1980s, came to Dar Sila from the country’s north. These migrants had been pushed south by droughts,

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