Chad: UN Humanitarian Chief calls for more resources to tackle “extremely challenging situation”
Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos drew attention to the humanitarian situation in Chad during a visit to the country last week, when she met people directly affected by displacement and food insecurity.
"I came to Chad to see the impact on Chad of the displaced people from the Central African Republic, and also to look at the food insecurity and malnutrition crisis," Valerie Amos said to national and international journalists on her second day in the country.
During her visit, USG Amos met Chad's President, Idriss Deby Itno, and ministers, humanitarian workers and representatives of donor countries in Chad. Ongoing violence in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) has forced nearly 100,000 people to seek refuge in Chad since last December. Over 61,000 people are living in temporary transit sites and depend on the Government and the humanitarian community for shelter, water and sanitation, food and health care.
Valerie Amos visited the transit site of Gaoui in the outskirts of the capital N'Djamena, a dusty sports ground where rows of tents shelter more than 3,000 people who were airlifted from Bangui in CAR to safety in Chad in January and February. The USG met humanitarian partners who are providing health care and psychosocial support, and also spoke to beneficiaries. Under a tattered roof, Ms. Amos talked to women living at the site whose tents were destroyed by recent strong winds and rains.
"I was able to see the extremely good work that the United Nations and partners are doing to support the displaced from the Central African Republic but I also got to see some of the conditions," she said later.
The same day, USG Amos visited Mao in Chad's Sahel belt, 200 kilometres north of N'Djamena. The region is hard hit by food insecurity and malnutritiondue to recurring droughts and erratic rains. Two million people in Chad are living in food insecurity, 65 per cent in the Sahel zone. Food insecurity is closely linked with malnutrition of children under five.
At a feeding center run by humanitarian partners in the local hospital, women and their children sat on a carpet on the ground, waiting for medical staff to look at their babies. "I do not know what to feed my family and then he fell sick from one day to the next," 19-year-old Benti explained, cradling two-year-old Ibrahim in her lap.
"It is very important to remember that Chad, together with a number of other countries across the Sahel, is facing an extremely challenging situation,” said USG Amos. “Year on year, environmental degradation and drought are resulting in higher numbers of people being food and nutrition insecure." Ms. Amos emphasized the regional aspect of the silent humanitarian crisis throughout the Sahel. She was accompanied on her mission by Robert Piper, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel.
USG Amos stressed the importance of a different approach to these issues, by helping communities to help themselves. "We need to plan for the longer term, to help communities to help build the resilience that they need so that they can overcome the shocks that they face," she explained.
While life-saving humanitarian activities in Chad are ongoing, enormous gaps remain. Shelter in the transit sites urgently needs improvement, as the rainy season has already begun, increasing the risk of epidemics. These activities are hampered by a lack of funding; the Strategic Response Plan for 2014 to 2016 is presently funded at only 5 per cent.
"I will continue to be a strong advocate for the people of Chad and do my best to help to raise the resources required to give the support that is needed to help the people of Chad deal with the underlying developmental challenges that the country faces and also with the impact of the refugees from Sudan and Central African Republic,” USG Amos promised.