Increased banditry, kidnappings of relief workers and attacks on humanitarian compounds in eastern Chad are threatening crucial aid for nearly 100,000 people, many of them refugees or internally displaced persons (IDP), the United Nations reported today.
Some 70 humanitarian organizations in eastern Chad are assisting 256,700 Sudanese refugees from the strife-torn Darfur conflict, 168,000 Chadian IDPs and around 150,000 people in host villages, and several have temporarily suspended or reduced their activities due to the insecurity in the Assoungha and the Dar Sila areas.
“The kidnapping of relief workers is a new element in bandits’ operations in eastern Chad, Darfur and northern CAR (Central African Republic),” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest update, citing the recent kidnapping of an international Red Cross staff member, attacks on two non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the abduction of two French nationals.
“This new security challenge [kidnapping] exacerbates the chronic banditry,” it added. “To date at least 96,500 people in needs are at risk of deteriorating living conditions due to the continued suspensions or reduction of operations by several humanitarian organisations.”
Peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT) have increased their patrols in the area, offering escorts to those humanitarians who accept and working with them to better respond to their protection needs, while the Government has taken some security measures, sending in some police protection, OCHA reported.
Assoungha remains the area the most affected, with organizations covering food security, health, water, sanitation and education continuing to suspend their activities. In the Dar Sila area, too, several organizations have decided to temporarily suspend activities or relocate international staff to safer areas, maintaining only minimal services.
The late start to the rainy season and weak rainfalls have exacerbated the situation, with surveys indicating a 30 per cent decrease in national agricultural production. Efforts to assess the situation in Assoungha were impeded by the kidnapping of the Red Cross expert, who was in charge of the exercise, and information on the food situation there is still lacking.