Date Published: 4 March 2014
76,000 people fleeing violence in Central African Republic take refuge in Chad
New and continuing fighting between government and opposition forces in South Sudan is severely hampering humanitarian efforts to help displaced children. Even though the two sides in the conflict signed a ceasefire agreement in January, ongoing violence has resulted in many South Sudanese fleeing from their homes, in some cases to neighbouring Ethiopia.
Manuel Fontaine, Regional Director of UNICEF for West and Central Africa, has visited Chad recently. He reported seeing 'mostly mothers and children' in the displacement site along the CAR/Chad border, people who he refered to as having 'left everything behind in Central African Republic when running for their lives'. Such reports indicate the desperation these people must be feeling while under great pressures and threat but without the basic resources for ordinary day-to-day living.
"Every week, our teams on the ground continue to witness people crossing the border into Chad. Many of them, especially children, have been exposed to horrific forms of violence" stated Manuel Fontaine.
What is being done to help ?
Over the past two months, UNICEF has deployed additional medical staff and increased the distribution of life-saving supplies and shelters in the 'transit centres' where displaced people arrive. This has been achieved in collaboration with the government and other partners including the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Programme, and various non-governmental organizations. As a result, 30,000 displaced people received basic family water and hygiene kits and medical kits and now have access to boreholes for water and 300 emergency latrines built by UNICEF. In southern Chad, more than 12,500 children were vaccinated through mass immunization campaigns.
So far, 1,062 children were registered as unaccompanied or separated from their families. Almost half of them have been reunited. UNICEF is working with the authorities and IOM to provide care, psychosocial support and protection for these displaced children, who often have been through a very traumatic experience in the Central African Republic.
" Ending the crisis in Central African Republic is the priority to keep everyone's safe", Fontaine stressed.
" The enormous humanitarian needs in Chad will increase in the coming weeks. The rainy season is fast approaching, and many displacement sites are located in areas prone to recurrent flooding and waterborne diseases. A deteriorating humanitarian situation at the onset of the rainy season should be prevented. We need to get ready not only for new arrivals but also for cholera, measles, malaria, polio, meningitis epidemics and floods. "
What are some of the main problems and needs ?
In one month, the number of people crossing the border from CAR into Chad has more than doubled. The risks of cholera, measles, malaria, polio and meningitis are real.
It is a matter of great concern that a shortfall in funding is straining the ability of aid organizations to provide life-saving assistance and support emergency efforts. It has been estimated that $33 million USD will be needed to provide emergency assistance to as many as 150,000 displaced people over the next six months.
In addition to the people displaced into Chad, other neighboring countries such as Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to a lesser extent, the Republic of Congo are also increasingly receiving migrants fleeing from the situation in the Central African Republic. These countries are therefore also affected by the impact of the humanitarian crisis in the CAR.