Chad: Humanitarian community responds as hundreds flee Nigeria

5 August, 2014
3 August, Choua, Chad: A young girl and her sibling on the island of Choua in Lake Chad. Hundreds of people fled here at the end of last week as a result of violence in north-eastern Nigeria. The UN is working with the government to provide basic assistance.
3 August, Choua, Chad: A young girl and her sibling on the island of Choua in Lake Chad. Hundreds of people fled here at the end of last week as a result of violence in north-eastern Nigeria. The UN is working with the government to provide basic assistance.

UN humanitarian agencies in Chad have assisted nearly 1,000 people who fled violence in north-eastern Nigeria in the past week.

The Government of Chad contacted the UN on Friday 1 August with reports that hundreds of people crossed from Nigeria into Chad’s largely inaccessible Lake Chad border region. The people – mostly women and children – had fled their village of Kolikolia in Nigeria following an attack by armed men.

"These people were forced to flee their village with none of their belongings,” said Thomas Gurtner, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Chad. “The United Nations supported the Government in delivering immediate life-saving assistance.”

Gurtner worked with key UN agencies to mount an immediate response. The people had arrived on the island of Choua in Lake Chad. Conditions on the island are inhospitable. There is no shelter, health infrastructure, latrines or potable water available.

The island is also extremely difficult to reach by road, so two airlifts were organized on Sunday, 3 August, to deliver a week’s worth of relief items.

The cargo included emergency shelter, blankets, mosquito nets, water purification and treatment supplies, medical supplies, malaria medication, basic household items and high energy biscuits provided by the UN Children’s Fund, the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme.

Relocation to a safer place

The humanitarian community's next priority is to evacuate the displaced as quickly as possible to a more secure and accessible location where they can be better supported. On Monday August 4 – the day after the airlift – a mission of emergency specialists reached the village of Ngouboua in the Lake Chad region to evaluate the feasibility of relocating the displaced people there.

François Sonon, OCHA's Head of Sub-Office in Mao covering the Lac region, took part in this mission. "We met with local authorities and they are preparing to receive these people," he said.

According to first accounts from the people who fled Kolikolia, armed men attacked the village in dawn of 30 July and burned many houses. Almost half of the over 2,000 inhabitants fled to Chad, the rest to locations inside Nigeria.

Continued instability and violence in northern Nigeria has seen about 3,000 people flee into Chad since 2009.

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