Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today warned against any attempts to destabilize eastern Chad, where United Nations aid agencies say mounting insecurity could threaten the delivery of aid to over 400,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Mr. Ban is following developments in eastern Chad with “increasing concern,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
He appealed to all parties to respect the humanitarian character of the operations of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in eastern Chad, and to refrain from deploying forces in areas where such operations are under the protection of the UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic and Chad, known as MINURCAT.
“The Secretary-General stresses that any attempt at destabilization through violent means is unacceptable and reaffirms that MINURCAT will act within its mandate and capabilities to protect civilians threatened by armed elements,” the statement said.
In addition, Mr. Ban urged the Governments of Chad and Sudan – which signed an accord on Sunday in the Qatari capital – “to bridge their differences using diplomatic and other peaceful means available to them and to redouble their efforts to implement the Doha agreement.”
Eastern Chad faces an acute humanitarian challenge, with over 290,000 Sudanese refugees from the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, more than 180,000 IDPs and a further 700,000 individuals among host communities in need of food, water and health care.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), humanitarian and security conditions have generally deteriorated in Chad, and have worsened even further in recent weeks.
UN agencies on the ground warn that the delivery of aid to some 250,000 Sudanese refugees and 166,000 displaced Chadians could be compromised due to mounting insecurity.
“As a precautionary measure, they are advising their staff to limit their movement to a minimum, most particularly in and around the towns of Goz Beida, Kerfi and Koukou. These towns are all within 100 kilometres of the Sudanese border where there are reports of tensions between government and rebel forces,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York.
Meanwhile, 17,800 new refugees have fled into southern Chad from the Central African Republic, joining 60,000 of their compatriots already living in Chad with UN assistance.
OCHA reported that a consequence of the overall humanitarian crisis appears to be an outbreak of meningitis in Chad that has claimed 128 lives out of a pool of some 1,160 people who contracted the disease since the start of the year.