New winds of war?

Chad is one of Africa’s poorest and least developed countries. And yet, after an almost endless series of civil wars, its government, which had been led for over 30 years by the iron hand of Idriss Déby, a close ally of France and the United States, had managed to bring a semblance of stability. Thanks to the army’s tight control, Chad has so far been almost immune to the infiltration of Islamic groups that are creating so many problems for the Sahel nations and beyond. This relative stability enabled the government to provide its population with a better standard of living, no easy task.

Chad suffers from childhood malnutrition, it’s stricken by drought and desertification and has been invaded by hundreds of thousands of refugees from Central Africa and Sudan. It has oil revenue, but this is unevenly redistributed, and 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. As the Chadian film director Mahamat Saleh Haroun, an award winner at the Cannes and Venice film festivals, once said, “We often feel abandoned in Chad and we don’t know why.”

Now, with the death of Déby, the fear of a new civil war is re-emerging for the country and its tentative hopes of rebirth.