11 December 2012

Chad: Refugees Boycott Abeche Meeting, Reject Doha

Abeche — Sheikhs from several refugee camps in eastern Chad decided to boycott a meeting organized by the country's government, in which several participants were going to exchange views about difficulties they face, Radio Dabanga learned on Tuesday, 11 December.

According to sources, humanitarian organizations, the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) were scheduled to attend the meeting in Abeche that started on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Radio Dabanga reported that a representative from Djabal camp declared that "the sheikhs had no problem discussing all difficulties refugees are facing, provided that the topics of voluntary return and the Doha Document are not included".

"Agenda changed"

Ahmed Ismail Yaqoub, speaking on behalf of the sheikhs' delegation, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the meeting's agenda had been changed.

He explained it became a workshop for discussing the refugees' views on a donor conference in Nyala, South Darfur they had boycotted.

Another source, Ahmed Suleiman, declared the sheikhs left the meeting as they refused to participate in the workshop with the LJM, chaired by Tijani al Deen Bashir Nyam.

He said that the LJM signed a "weak agreement" with the government of Sudan, making them incapable of protecting the displaced of Kassab and Fatta Borno camps, Jawa and Hashaba.

In addition, sources stressed that the refugees do not recognize the Doha Document, especially after LJM failed to protect itself.

The sheikhs' boycott led the meeting to adjourn for about one hour, sources recounted. During this time, mediators reportedly attempted to convince the sheikhs to continue, however they refused to sit down with the LJM. As a result, the LJM left the meeting disappointed, Yaqoub explained.

He suggested that the LJM "wants to deceive the refugees by holding the workshop and 'taking' their opinions and 'selling' them at the donors' conference which will be held in Doha and was rejected by the refugees."

Security issues

According to the spokesman, two hours after the LJM left, the sheikhs sat down with a representative of the UNHCR and said: "we presented our demands in regards to security issues 'on the ground', the expulsion of new settlers as well as individual and collective compensation for refugees, reconstruction of infrastructure and war damages."

He added that the meeting with the UNHCR representative helped the organizations understand the needs and demands of the refugees and the issues they are facing.

The UN representative promised to raise these demands at the next meeting of the UN Security Council.

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