Friday, May 19, 2023

N'Djamena, Chad

QUESTION: (off-mic)

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you. This is my fourth trip to Chad. I took two trips back in 2004, when genocide was being perpetrated in Darfur. The Ambassador and I traveled here in 2016 because Boko Haram was posing such a substantial threat to people in Chad, and in the region, and to talk with President Deby about democratization in Chad. 

And on this trip, I came for two reasons: one to visit with Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad, and second to engage with the President and with civil society, about the national dialogue and the transition process here in Chad.

QUESTION: (off-mic) 

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: So in talking to Sudanese refugees today, we heard chilling accounts of the terror that they are fleeing. Many of the refugees we spoke with have fled for the third or fourth time. In a room of six female refugees, I asked whether they were married and had husbands. Three of the six women, their husbands had been murdered by militia or armed elements in the Darfur area. 

While in eastern Chad, I announced that the United States will be providing an additional $100 million, of which $17 million will go to those organizations who are helping shelter the Sudanese who have just arrived. 

I had the chance just now, on behalf of President Biden, to thank President Deby, for the generosity that Chad has shown to this latest wave of Sudanese refugees. Chad was already hosting around 600,000 refugees before the conflict broke out in April between Burhan forces and Hemedti forces. 

This latest wave an additional 76,000 [60,000] Sudanese who are, in some cases wounded, in some cases have left or been separated from family members, in most cases thirsty and hungry. 76,000 [60,000] people have come looking for support. Emergency food and cash assistance that we will provide, will of course benefit these traumatized Sudanese refugees who feel they have no place else to turn but to Chad. And this support we hope, as well, will provide economic and social service benefits to people who live in the border regions.

QUESTION: (off-mic) 

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Yes, that that was going to be my next topic. We had a chance to engage civil society, various leaders and civil society women who advocate for women's empowerment or against gender based violence. Lawyers who have been active in the dialogue or active supporting, for example, political prisoners, and others. 

Then, in meeting with the President, we had a chance to talk about the importance of an inclusive national dialogue, the importance of open and transparent processes that citizens feel they have a voice in and that citizens can give feedback on. We have welcomed the release of political prisoners who were arrested during the violent crackdown on October 20. And in the meeting I had just now with President Deby, we urged the release of all political prisoners, those jailed in the protests, in the wake of the protests, and also opposition political leaders. I also urged the president to do everything in his power to ensure accountability for the violent crackdown. For those who used disproportionate force against protesters, the perpetrators of those attacks will be held accountable, even if they have connections to the president's government. Finally, we discussed the importance of addressing the root causes of the protests and ensuring that the dialogue, and the transition, is maximally inclusive so that people feel they can raise their voices within that process. 

The United States will continue to stand with the people of Chad, both as they open their arms to Sudanese refugees fleeing horrific circumstances, and as the people of Chad pursue a democratic and more prosperous future for themselves.

Thank you.


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