Eyewitness to the Conflict in Chad

Christophe Droeven, CRS’ country representative in Chad, was recently evacuated from the capital, N’Djamena. He spoke with CRS’ Lane Hartill from Belgium.

Last Wednesday, I was in Abéché with some staff. I received information after talking with different people that rebels were in the area, not far from our position.


Christophe Droeven. CRS photo.

I asked our staff in N’Djamena to prepare an evacuation plan. When I got back to N’Djamena, and realized that something could happen quickly, I backed up computer files and email. I removed the electrical fuse from the office to prevent a fire from starting, and, with the guard, removed fuel from the vehicles.

We were in the French school that was secured by the French military with snipers, armored cars, and tanks. There were 217 people there and a lot of them were children. Around 9 a.m., a heavy battle started. There was heavy tank and artillery fire. Tanks were shooting 30 meters from where we were. The walls were shaking. We opened the windows so they didn’t shatter on us. Everyone was down under tables. We were talking to the children, trying to keep them calm. We were under the tables for 7 hours.

We had two 20-minute breaks during those seven hours where we could go out and get some fresh air. At that point, we saw people in the streets looting, people running by with TVs on their heads.

I was not too worried. My wife and I had been in a similar situation in Burundi. So we were taking the lead in the school and giving people advice.

Fighting could resume quickly. The information I’m getting is that there are a lot of bodies in the street. Houses are being burned, and there is a lot of looting. The house of one of our staff has been looted. One of our national staff went to the CRS office yesterday, and, at that point, everything was OK.

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One Response to “Eyewitness to the Conflict in Chad”

  1. Niall Holland Says:

    Hello Cristophe – I am currently volunteering on a rural project in NW Cameroon. I am interested in volunteering at a refugee camp on the Cameroon border and can offer at least 3 months of my time.

    I am 47 years old and have various skills. I would be very happy to assist CRS in its work.

    Best wishes, Niall

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