N'Djamena. - Since the beginning of the crisis in the Central African Republic, over 113,000 refugees and returning Chadians have sought refuge in N’Djamena in Chad, as well as in camps and villages in the south of the country, according to the International Organization for Migration. “A year on, the situation remains precarious. Humanitarian aid is mainly focused on the camps in south-eastern Chad, in particular Moyen-Chari, Eastern Logone and Western Logone,” said Gérard Besson, head of the ICRC delegation on Friday in Chad.
“Because the south-east of the country is relatively isolated, and people have spread out and gone back to their original communities, the area has been neglected by most humanitarian agencies,” said Mr Besson. The ICRC has been distributing essential items – cooking utensils, buckets, jerrycans, blankets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and nappies – to the most vulnerable families that have arrived since the beginning of the year.
Most people who come to Chad are women and children. "Many bear the scars of what they’ve gone through to get here. Although they’ve been treated well by the local communities, they have very little to live on. Before the conflict, many lived off trade and livestock farming. But with the loss of their livestock, they’ve lost their main source of income," said Mr Besson.
During the first week of November, the ICRC, together with the Red Cross of Chad, distributed essential items to over a thousand families (5,000 people) who had returned to the area of Am Timan. According to Ridmadjibaye Nadjinangar, the secretary-general of Salamat, an administrative region in south-eastern Chad, "over 7,000 people have returned to their original communities in the area."
"I met an old woman who had lost her son in the fighting in Bangui and fled to Salamat with her four grandchildren. She’s been in Am Timan since the beginning of the year, with only herself to rely on, trying to meet the needs of her family. These items should help make her life a little less tough," said Etienne Djimboveye, an ICRC employee who took part in the first round of the aid operation. The ICRC is planning a second round of distributions before the end of the year, with a further 1,000 families expected to benefit.
Between 1 January and 15 November, the ICRC:
- helped the Red Cross of Chad distribute over 1,600 essential-item kits to people in the transit centre at Gaoui, near N’Djamena, who had fled the violence in the Central African Republic, and 190 similar kits to victims of fires in two villages in the area of Lake Chad;
- visited over 1,700 people deprived of their liberty in 10 places of detention in Chad, and provided sanitary and other essential items in several prisons;
- provided nutritional supplements to over 1,450 detainees, of whom 250 were suffering from acute malnutrition, and 1,200 from moderate malnutrition;
- helped relatives make over 20,000 telephone calls to get back in touch with family members separated by the violence in the Central African Republic;
- reunited 14 unaccompanied children, who had fled the violence, with their parents;
- supported two physical rehabilitation centres to help 5,000 people improve their mobility;
- supported the Chadian authorities in the process of ratifying IHL treaties and incorporating them into domestic law