Thousands of displaced Chadians running out of food due to funding shortfall – UN
Scores of thousands of displaced Chadians are running out of food in the eastern border region with Sudan and face a desperate struggle to survive absent new donations to meet the needs of a rising tide of people uprooted by continuing conflict, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.
“This is not a sustainable situation,” WFP Chad Country Director Felix Bamezon said, noting that even before the latest increase in displaced people the agency’s $85-million Emergency Operation to assist Sudanese refugees, internally displaced people, host communities and refugee-affected local people in eastern Chad from January 2007 until June 2008 had received only $39 million, leaving a 54 per cent shortfall.
“Life in eastern Chad has always been precarious, but now tens of thousands of Chadians are being pushed to the breaking point. There is simply not enough food to go around,” he added of the “race against time” to pre-position as much food as possible before the rainy season starts in late June, making most roads impassable.
WFP had planned to feed 50,000 displaced Chadians, but it now estimates that an additional 80,000 displaced people are in urgent need of aid, requiring 7,500 metric tons of food at a cost of $7.5 for the next six months.
The agency already feeds 225,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad who have fled nearly four years of fighting between the Government, allied militias and rebels seeking greater autonomy in Sudan’s Darfur region, as well as more than 45,000 refugees in southern Chad who have fled fighting and in security in the neighbouring.
But then a flood of internal displacements added to the crisis in eastern Chad, fuelled by a series of bloody inter-ethnic attacks, competition for scarce water, grazing land and other resources, reflecting a spill-over of violence from Darfur with armed, mainly Arab attackers on horseback and camels burning African villages, destroying crops, stealing cattle, terrorizing villagers and killing people.
“These people were forced to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” Mr. Bamezon said. “They are completely dependent on host communities who can barely feed themselves, and their living conditions are going from bad to worse.”
A recent WFP-led assessment found nearly 130,000 displaced people living on the outskirts of villages – almost three times the number expected – the vast majority living in flimsy shelters patched together from straw or millet stalks that will not survive the rains. One in five families does not even have a roof. Few have access to potable water or latrines, and local health services cannot handle the unexpected flood of new patients.
With so many new mouths to feed, local host communities are being forced to kill off their livestock, and WFP fears that soon seed stores will start to be consumed as hunger and rising cereal prices take their toll.