Illegal migrants in Chad face counterterror measures

Published 28.06.2015 22:23

Undocumented migrants in Chad have been subject to a series of anti-terrorism measures conducted in the wake of twin suicide attacks that rocked the capital N'Djamena earlier this month and left 34 people dead. While security officials say the moves are necessary to protect the country's national security, critics say they are unjust and could potentially lead to diplomatic friction with other countries. One local security official told Anadolu Agency (AA) that, since the attacks, the police, gendarmes and agents of the Nomadic Guard of Chad (GNT) had been searching for undocumented immigrants, especially in the capital's Moursal and Paris-Congo neighborhoods.

"Many undocumented immigrants – mainly from Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon – live in these neighborhoods," the official, insisting on anonymity, said. "We must apply pressure to find the suspects." Police General Director Tahir Erda, for his part, told AA that security forces planned to question "all undocumented immigrants in N'Djamena and across the country" within the context of the ongoing counterterrorism investigations. "Suspects will be handed over to the Justice Department, while others will be deported to their respective countries," Erda said.

Chaibo Abba Goni, an undocumented Nigerian immigrant detained by police on Tuesday, said that Chadian security forces had brought him – along with a number of other undocumented immigrants – to several camps located near Lake Chad. "We're staying here in camps. Some organizations will take care of us until we return to our respective countries," he said. "We left everything in N'Djamena. The police didn't even allow us to take our personal belongings," he added. Goni went on to describe how he and his fellow detainees were crammed into large trucks and taken to the camps – a journey, he said, of more than 400 kilometers. "Some detainees were forced to break their [Ramadan] fast because they could no longer bear the heat and dust," he said.

Ngarial Wong-Goto Modeste, secretary-general of the National Union for Democracy and Socialism, a local political party, described the government's policy of deporting undocumented immigrants as "deplorable and foolish." Speaking to AA, he added: "We cannot expel our friends who lived in this country for many years. The government is losing control of the situation."

Evariste Ngarlem Tolde, a professor at the University of N'Djamena, warned that the controversial policy could even result in "diplomatic incidents" with other countries. Tarbe Mornodji, director of the Center for Social Action, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) that advocates for personal rights, said the state would "pay a price" for pursuing such a policy. "It will pay a price in terms of transporting the immigrants, and also for the construction of shelters, feeding and dealing with the risk of epidemics [among detained immigrants], especially with the onset of the rainy season," Mornodji said.

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