UNICEF appeals for $9 million in vital aid for 350,000 refugees, displaced people in Chad
Over $9 million in vital aid is urgently needed to address the immediate needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern and southern Chad as violence in the region escalates, according to the latest donor update issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“With widespread chronic malnutrition, diarrhoea, respiratory diseases and malaria the main causes of death among under-five children in eastern Chad, the lack of access to health services and essential medicines must be addressed,” the agency warned.
It cited a special need to protect and provide medical care for women who have suffered sexual and gender-based violence, as well as to safeguard children from recruitment by armed groups as fighting between Government forces and rebel groups worsens in western Sudan, eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic (CAR).
More than 215,000 Sudanese refugees from the war-torn Darfur region, 85 per cent of them children and women, live in 12 camps in eastern Chad. Deteriorating security has uprooted nearly 90,000 Chadians, 30,000 of them during October and November alone, while unrest in CAR has sent 45,000 people fleeing into southern Chad.
“In this context, increased humanitarian assistance for refugees, the internally displaced, and host communities in eastern and southern Chad is vital,” UNICEF reported, seeking $4,400,000 for IDPs and $4,680,000 for Sudanese and CAR refugees.
Access to education is very limited due to shortages of classrooms and teaching materials for school-aged children. Access to water and sanitation is also urgently needed, with only 3 per cent of the population in host communities having access to safe drinking water and less than 1 per cent of families in rural areas using latrines.
This situation is further exacerbated by overcrowding caused by the arrival of IDPs, which can lead to disputes over limited resources and to a high risk of epidemics from the use of contaminated water and inadequate sanitation facilities, UNICEF warned.
“The overarching strategy continues to be to support willing communities in relatively safe locations to assist those who have been forced to relocate,” it said.
“However, with a strong potential for additional population displacements in eastern Chad in December 2006-January 2007, UNICEF is working with other agencies to establish a mass response capacity that includes the identification and development of locations with suitable water supplies,”
Sudanese refugees are now receiving assistance that meets international standards, such as 15 litres of water per person per day, food rations consisting of 2,100 calories per person per day, access to health care and nutrition, and primary education for children.
In southern Chad, the critical issue is to provide basic services to both refugee and host communities, addressing the low health, nutritional and educational status of CAR refugee children, as well as the lack of adequate access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities. The more limited profile of the crisis in CAR has resulted in a chronic under-funding of humanitarian aid in southern Chad.