|© UNICEF video|
|Some 90,000 families from Chad have joined Sudanese refugees in fleeing from fighting.|
By Jane O’Brien
NEW YORK, USA, 28 November 2006 – Escalating unrest in Chad is hampering efforts to help a quarter of a million Sudanese refugees and Chadian nationals displaced by the fighting across the region. Ethnic feuds, attacks by the Janjaweed militia and rebel activity are all contributing to worsening security in a country already suffering the fallout from the conflict in neighbouring Darfur.
An estimated 15,000 people in Chad have been forced to flee their homes in November alone, and some 90,000 Chadians are now living in camps or with host communities.
“UNICEF’s principal or immediate support for these people is the provision of water,” says UNICEF’s Representative in Chad, Stephen Adkisson. “Without water, families cannot remain where they have been accepted and received by the host communities. We are working to establish new water points, and where possible at existing water points, increase the yield by establishing power supplies, storage and distribution systems.”
UNICEF is also playing a key role in health care and education, ensuring that children receive proper nutrition and are vaccinated against preventable diseases.
Action needed to restore security
But fighting in the eastern town of Abeche on 25 November led to the looting of a warehouse storing critical relief supplies for a number of UN agencies. About $1.3 million worth of aid was stolen.
“We lost several thousand mosquito nets and a number of educational materials, including desks and chairs that had been constructed and were to be delivered to new schools,” says Mr. Adkisson. “However, with the re-establishment of control by the government, there have been significant actions by the local population to return the materials that had been stolen – and that includes some of the materials provided by UNICEF.”
Mr. Adkisson has joined calls for action to restore security and says he is hopeful that a proposed international presence in Chad may have some effect.
“The people in Chad need peace,” he says. “With peace, there’s the promise of development. Without peace and stability, there’s a strong potential that they will continue to be mired in the conditions in which they find themselves.”