Date Published: 23 February 2007
UNICEF and Mia Farrow call for action for Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians in Chad
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow accompanied by UNICEF Chad Representative, Stephen Adkisson, concluded her trip in eastern Chad to camps of Sudanese refugees and communities of displaced Chadians, calling on the international community for emergency humanitarian assistance here.
Their five-day fact-finding mission took them to the Goz Beida region of Eastern Chad where Farrow walked through plundered and burned villages and solemnly observed mass grave sites resulting from armed militia attacks against defenseless populations. Farrow drove on some of the same roads on which thousands of fleeing Chadians walked to where they now survive, crowded into communities further away from the Sudanese border. The displacements, which began in early 2006, dramatically increased to over 115,000 in the months of November and December in 2006. The Chadian displaced joined the 230,000 refugees from Darfur who live in camps in eastern Chad. Nearly 85 per cent of the refuges from Darfur are women and children, many of whom are victims or witnesses of unspeakable atrocities.
“While humanitarian food stocks are dwindling, the refugees from Darfur, the Chadian displaced and the host communities are more than likely to miss another planting season, due to lack of security. When they leave the camps or host villages to perform such tasks as collecting firewood there are risks that the men are killed and women are raped and often disfigured by armed militias that continue to prey upon them.”
Adkisson stresses that the number one priority of all displaced populations is adequate security so they can go back to their home villages. But that when forced to flee, their key need is water?in an area that has close to the lowest level of safe water access in the world. The displaced left their homes with what they could carry, and arrived in communities who live in almost unspeakable poverty. UNICEF, and other humanitarian partners, are working to support the displaced and the host communities with emergency water sources, and health and sanitation services to limit the risk of epidemics that come from overcrowding. Expanded school facilities are providing an opportunity for displaced and host community children to learn together.
“Although UNICEF and other aid agencies are doing what they can with the resources they presently have and continue to work under very dangerous conditions, more must be done. We have a serious crisis in the making. With knowledge surely comes responsibility. If we have the knowledge of the horrible situation here in Eastern Chad and do nothing, then we must face the ultimate responsibility for the ongoing pain, suffering and deaths here. With knowledge you can get involved in the process of stopping this,”Farrow stated.
“What is urgently needed in Eastern Chad is an international peace keeping force. It is past time,”appeals Farrow.