Chad was afflicted by a drought in 1990.
The Tama and Zaghawa have historically clashed over grazing resources and livestock. As a result of the drought, many Zaghawa migrated into Tama land, escalating tensions between both groups in the context of armed conflicts in Chad and neighbouring Sudan.
Violence erupted between Tama and Zaghawa-dominated rebel factions in 2006, claiming more than 200 lives. Communal conflicts frequently involved livestock raids and fighting over land.
Between 2006 and 2007, clashes between Tama and Zaghawa in Dar Tama, eastern Chad, claimed more than 200 victims and displaced several thousand people. Different factors contributed to the escalation of tensions between the two groups: the struggle for pastureland, fighting between elements of the Tama-dominated FUC (Forces Unies pour le Changement) and elements of the mainly Zaghawa RAFD (Rassemblement des Forces Démocratiques), as well as a worsening humanitarian situation with an increasing number of Darfurian refugees in eastern Chad (UCDP, 2014; HRW, 2007; Miarom, 2007).
Historically, relationships between the Tama and Zaghawa have oscillated between peaceful coexistence and occasional conflict over grazing resources and livestock. Tensions began to build up in 1990, when many Zaghawa moved into the Guereda region as a result of drought. This movement forced many Tama to flee to neighbouring Darfur, where they launched a rebellion against the Chadian government. Migration of Zaghawa onto Tama land was further encouraged by the fact that Idriss Déby, who had recently seized power in Chad, was himself a Zaghawa and largely expected to support his own community. Indeed, many local officials appointed in eastern Chad were Zaghawa, adding to the perception among the Tama that the government was sectarian (HRW, 2007). In the second half of 2006, violence between the two groups erupted in the wake of fights between Tama and Zaghawa-dominated rebel factions of the FUC and the RAFD. Each community suspected members of the other community to be supporting an enemy rebel group. Attacks frequently also involved the looting of property and livestock and the opportunistic use of violence in order to gain access to land (HRW, 2007; UCDP, 2014).
The level of violence between both groups has significantly decreased, partly as a result of the deployment of an EU force (European Union Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic) in 2008. Since 2007, there have been no reports of large scale clashes between Tama and Zaghawa (ACLED, 2014).
Many people in Dar Tama have criticised the work of military and police forces, which has done little to stop communal violence and prosecute the perpetrators of attacks against the civilian population. Some have even accused local authorities of supporting the Zaghawa in their fight against the Tama (HRW, 2007).
Yet, the level of communal violence in Dar Tama has sensibly diminished since the deployment of an EU force in February 2008. In March 2009, this force was taken over by the United Nations under the MINURCAT (Mission des Nations unies en République centrafricaine et au Tchad) mandate.