The Socio-political Situation
Chad has seen decades of political turmoil, and conflict with repeated attempts to overthrow the Government by armed groups. A European peacekeeping force was deployed in September 2007 to help the Government tackle insecurity in its eastern border areas. A UN mission (MINURCAT) took over this role in January 2009 and withdrew in December 2010. The country has seen a period of relative stability since mid-2010, with legislative and presidential elections held in early 2011. The current president was re-elected for another five years, having been in office since 1990.
The security situation in eastern Chad improved following the signing of a peace agreement with neighbouring Sudan in January 2010. A joint Sudan-Chad security force is now based along the border. The deployment of the Détachement Intégré de Sécurité (DIS), the reinforcement of national police and gendarmerie by the Government has strengthened security arrangements in eastern and southern Chad. Unexploded ordnance and kidnapping remain serious security threats, with the proliferation of small arms among the population. This situation deteriorated further with the recent Libyan crisis. The weak judicial system, absence of rule of law and prevailing impunity in large parts of the country is a concern.
Recent regional developments have had a significant influence on Chad: the Libya crisis led to the return of over 85,000 Chadian migrants, cut commercial links and stopped the flow of remittances; rising insecurity in the Sahel linked to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb Islamic is another concern; the longer term impact of the independence of South Sudan remains to be felt.
The country is regularly affected by natural disasters, such as floods and droughts. Epidemics of cholera, meningitis, measles and poliomyelitis are recurrent. The worst cholera epidemic since 1971 has been spreading in Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon since late 2010 with more than 17,000 cases and over 450 deaths in Chad alone.
The Humanitarian Situation
Chad hosts more than 330,000 refugees from violence in the Sudan and CAR, while 131,000 IDPs fled clashes and insecurity in the east of the country. Improved security has enabled some 50,000 IDPs to return to their areas of origin, although their resettlement has been hampered by the lack of basic social structures and services, especially in education, health, water and sanitation. By October, about 83,000 Chadian migrants fled the crisis in Libya. Most have been repatriated to their villages in the Sahel area and to the city of N’djamena.
Unresolved property and land issues remain an obstacle for some returnees. The rule of law is absent in parts of the country and the presence of police and local authority remains limited. Competition for very limited resource causes communal unrest and tensions between IDP, returnees and host communities. A largely dysfunctional judicial system also means there are critical protection issues to address, such as arbitrary detention and illegal fines, impunity, gender-based violence and child-protection incidents.
The Sahel region continues to face malnutrition and food insecurity, despite efforts by the Government and its partners to provide emergency assistance – including general food distributions and subsidized cereal grains – and support to bolster livelihoods. Major food shortages persist among poor households. A recent assessment by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FewsNet) found that about 1.6 million people were affected by food insecurity and malnutrition.
Joint agency nutritional surveys conducted with the Government in early 2011 found a high prevalence of global acute malnutrition (above 15 per cent) in many parts of the country. This was corroborated by a subsequent WFP assessment in May 2011, which found severe and moderate food insecurity across Chad (29 per cent and 21 per cent respectively), with pockets of high food insecurity in the Kanem and Bahr el Ghazal among other areas (66 per cent and 63 per cent respectively). Prospects for a good harvest in 2012 remain slim due to insufficient and irregular rainfall patterns across the country.
The country is currently suffering from a severe cholera epidemic. It spread across the country in late 2010, with 17,000 cases and 450 deaths reported by mid November.
The Humanitarian Strategy and Response
The HCT agreed to focus on three priorities: protection and assistance for individuals affected by the various protracted crises; implementing activities to support durable solutions for the displaced and refugee communities; and facilitating a transition to recovery and long-term development. This includes reinforcing advocacy and other efforts aimed at improving humanitarian space, strengthening national and local community disaster management capacity, and ensuring close collaboration with the development community and the UNDAF process.
Twelve UN agencies and about 70 NGOs are providing protection and assistance to the refugee and displaced communities, and to the returnees and vulnerable population affected by the malnutrition and food insecurity crisis in the Sahel belt. With aid agencies frequently called on to respond to floods, droughts and epidemics, a strong OCHA presence is needed in Chad to support the effective delivery of vital life-saving assistance.
Following MINURCAT’s withdrawal, OCHA has a vital role in ensuring that mechanisms are established to deal with the security and safety of humanitarian workers, the respect for humanitarian space and the protection of civilians.
The humanitarian community and partners interact through a variety of mechanisms. They include general coordination meetings, HCT meetings, the Security Management Team, the Bureau for Security and Movements, cluster meetings, inter-cluster meetings, country-based donor meetings, the floods crisis-management committee and CASAGC (committee for food security) as well as the regionally based Comité Regional d´Appui (CRA).
The humanitarian situation has a potential to improve over the two next years, with a shift in focus to recovery and development. The Government has developed a broad recovery programme targeting affected areas of eastern Chad. This will eventually be integrated into its National Poverty Reduction Strategy.
It has also endorsed a durable solutions strategy developed by the Early Recovery cluster and its partners. Provided security and stability continue to stabilize, this would see more returns, reintegration or resettlement of the displaced population, and the restoration of basic social services.
The cluster approach is expected to be gradually replaced by a more thematic approach with enhanced leadership for the development actors at sector level. The gradual return of Sudanese and CAR refugees is expected to start in 2013, eventually leading to a phase-out of humanitarian monitoring mechanisms.