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Chad: Artisanal mining increases political tension between the government and local communities

Author: International Crisis Group (Belgium), Published on: 20 May 2019

"Chad: Avoiding Confrontation in Miski", 17 may 2019

In the gold mining areas of Tibesti in northern Chad, friction is rising among the state, gold miners and the local ethnic Teda population. In late 2018, clashes erupted between Chadian troops and a self-defence group in the town of Miski. Tensions and risks of a new escalation remain high...Tensions are escalating in northern Chad’s Tibesti region, on the country’s border with Libya and Niger. An influx of outsiders attracted by gold, the region’s increasing militarisation and Tibesti’s predominantly ethnic Teda population’s deep distrust of the central authorities have all contributed. Strains are especially evident in the mining areas of Kouri Bougoudi and Miski, notably over the management of resources from mining. The authorities have been quick to assume, erroneously, that miners are complicit with Chadian rebels in southern Libya. In turn, locals suspect the government wants to seize what they view as their gold...

Since 2012, the region’s gold boom has attracted traders, thousands of miners, Chadian soldiers and army defectors and Chadian and Sudanese rebels, all seeking to profit from the windfall. Chadian rebel groups make regular incursions from southern Libya. The mix provokes considerable anxiety for the Chadian authorities. They worry that gold mines may become hives of rebel activity and funding and that members of the armed forces, notably high-ranking officials profiting from mining, might build relations with the government’s enemies...Inhabitants suspect those close to the inner circles of power of wanting to control the town’s gold mining. The authorities interpret local resentment as a challenge to their authority...Local monitoring committees set up in 2013 to oversee and levy taxes from gold mining morphed into a self-defence militia...

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