UN expert urges Chad to step up efforts to protect internally displaced

11 February 2009

An independent United Nations human rights expert has called on the Government of Chad to boost its efforts in protecting the tens of thousands of civilians forced from their homes to escape the ongoing violence in the African nation.

Eastern Chad is suffering from a spill-over from wars in neighbouring Sudan’s Darfur region and the Central African Republic (CAR), as well as its own rebel conflict and crimes committed in the country by heavily armed bandits.

The region faces an acute humanitarian challenge with over 290,000 Sudanese refugees and 10,000 refugees from CAR in the remote village of Daha, as well as over 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a further 700,000 individuals sheltered by host communities, all in need of basic supplies for survival.

“Protecting the rights of displaced persons is primarily the responsibility of the Government of Chad,” said Walter Kaelin, the Secretary-General’s Representative on the human rights of IDPs, following a week-long visit to the country.

“It must engage vigorously to protect the human rights of thousands of Chadians who flee their homes in the east of the country, particularly their rights to security, food and water, health and education,” added Mr. Kaelin.

The Representative urged the Government to redouble its efforts to assist displaced populations, underscoring his concerns that “violations of human rights continue to be perpetrated against IDPs, including the recruitment of children by various armed groups and gender-based violence suffered by displaced girls and women.”

Mr. Kaelin also warned of the proliferation of weapons, the militarization of IDP sites, growing crime and the climate of impunity prevailing in the regions he visited, which affect the security of displaced populations and distracts attention from finding solutions to the building humanitarian crisis.

Noting that some people had decided to return home despite the precarious security conditions and a lack of access to basic services, Mr. Kaelin stressed that it is up to national authorities, with the assistance of the international community, to create the conditions that enable IDPs to lead their lives whether returning home, integrating into a local shelter or moving to a safer part of the country.

 

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