Chad: Six things you need to know
UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos is on her first official visit to Chad, where she will meet people who fled violence in neighbouring Central African Republic and visit the Kanem region in the Sahel belt, where some 1.3 million people suffer from the impact of severe food insecurity.
Here are six things you need to know about the humanitarian situation in this country and what the humanitarian community is doing to respond.
1. Tens of thousands of people who recently fled to Chad are in dire need of assistance. Since a new wave of violence erupted in the Central African Republic in December 2013, some 180,000 people fled to neighbouring countries. More than half of these arrived in Chad. Around two-thirds of them are Chadian nationals previously living in CAR – many of them second-or third-generation migrants who have no ties to their home country and who arrived with next to nothing. Over 61,000 people are still living in temporary transit sites in the south of the country and near the capital, N'Djamena. They are dependent on the Government and the humanitarian community for shelter, water and sanitation, food and health care. Humanitarian actors are racing against time to improve the emergency shelters and sanitation at these sites before the onset of the rainy season. The first rains have begun in the south and each downpour increases the risk of epidemics including malaria.
2. Chad has emerged from war to provide a safe haven for refugees. Although a four-year civil war only ended in 2010, Chad is now the seventh most important refugee-hosting country in the world with over 440,600 refugees, most of whom fled conflict in neighbouring Sudan. In the past five months alone, some 30,000 Sudanese refugees have crossed the border into Chad. There are also some 80,000 refugees from previous crises in CAR. In total, there are some 20 refugee camps in the east and south of Chad.
3. Tens of thousands of children go hungry every day in the Sahel. A large part of Chad lies in the Sahel belt, a zone stretching across the African continent that is particularly vulnerable to drought. Two million people - 17 per cent of the total population of Chad - live in food insecurity, relying on subsistence farming, scraping out an existence, struggling to feed their families and not knowing how to make it through the lean season.The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, estimates that 147,000 children in Chad currently suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition and over 406,000 from Moderate Acute Malnutrition. Food production is hampered by erratic rains and droughts. The 2014 harvest is expected to reach 2.5 million metric tons, 12 per cent more than the five-year average, but nearly one fifth lower than last year's.
4. A country of epidemics with only one Chadian doctor for 23,600 people. The health system in Chad faces many challenges, including, most notably, one of capacity. There are less than 500 Chadian doctors for the entire population of 11.8 million people – meaning one for 23,600 people. Nearly three-quarters of deaths in Chad are a result of epidemics, especially malaria. From January to March 2014, over 160,000 cases were reported - around 14,000 per week. Measles outbreaks are also a regular occurrence, and meningitis is recurrent during the dry season from October to April. Chad has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 1,100 mothers dying per 100,000 births. Sexual and gender-based violence is a concern to health personnel and to all humanitarians. Female genital mutilation is very common and rarely reported.
5. Humanitarian agencies are taking a longer-term view. Chad has regularly been hit by natural disasters like droughts and floods. Humanitarian agencies provide life-saving assistance to people in need, and are now embracing new approaches to improve the resilience of local communities and help them prepare and respond to shocks. The aim is to strengthen the ability of individuals, households and communities to anticipate, prepare for and react to a wide range of hazards.
6. Chronic underfunding is putting lives at risk in Chad. The humanitarian situation in Chad is not attracting the funding it needs, as many donors have to make tough decisions about allocating their resources. The Strategic Response Plan requires $527 million to cover humanitarian needs in Chad but was less than 5 per cent financed ($25m) by the end of April. The Central Emergency Response Fund is one of the main donors to humanitarian action in Chad, and has allocated $10 million to Chad as an underfunded emergency. The significant humanitarian needs of people who have arrived from CAR have been met from regular budgets, meaning that other programmes, for example those providing nutrition support for children in the Sahel, may have to be cut.