Racing against clock, UN seeks $81 million to feed hundreds of thousands in Chad
In a race against time, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched an urgent appeal today for $81 million in new donations for another major operation to feed more than 230,000 Sudanese refugees and 150,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern Chad, who depend entirely on the handouts for their daily survival.
To reach its targets, WFP needs to set in motion, by next month at the latest, a programme to buy and ship 79,000 metric tons of food to eastern Chad, where refugees uprooted by the war in Sudan’s Darfur region and Chadians displaced by related conflicts have sought refuge in more than a dozen camps and villages.
The new operation entails mobilizing ocean-going transport as well as a fleet of 8,000 trucks to travel overland, either from Douala Port in Cameroon or along the 1,800-kilometre Libyan corridor across the Sahara desert.
“Given the long lead time for deliveries to Chad, we need to have this operation rolling by October,” WFP Country Director Felix Bamezon said. “And as soon as the food arrives here, WFP will be in a real race against the clock to deliver before the rains start in June. That might seem a long way off now, but from June 2008 onwards, roads will become impassable and will be officially closed.”
He noted that pre-positioning for this year’s rainy season, currently underway, had been completed successfully, with sufficient stocks to feed refugees and IDPs until November. But he added that the increased demands for 2008 required new donations to be confirmed by next month to ensure that food is pre-positioned before the onset of next year’s rains.
“Donors need to act now to avoid the risk of any delay in providing food for hundreds of thousands of people who entirely depend on WFP for their daily survival,” Mr. Bamezon said.
The total cost of WFP’s entire emergency operation in Chad for the two years running from January 2007 to December 2008 is $186.3 million. The agency supplies monthly rations to the refugees and IDPs, and also helps local host populations, under pressure from the influx, to meet their food needs.
Security and the current rainy season combine to confront humanitarian agencies in Chad with a particularly challenging environment at the moment. The UN’s Humanitarian Air Service, run by WFP, provides a vital air link for over 60 UN agencies and non-governmental organizations and needs continuous support to increase capacity, flights and access to new IDP sites.