Sudan

Darfur refugees fuel tension in Chad

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Chad/2005
During a sandstorm at Oure Casseoni Camp, eastern Chad, parents and teachers struggle to put up a UNICEF school tent.

NEW YORK, 1 February 2005 - Tension is increasing in eastern Chad as refugees from the troubled Darfur region of Sudan cross the border seeking safety. There are an estimated 203,000 people now living in 11 overcrowded camps in Chad, and more could arrive as the crisis in Darfur continues.

The influx is putting a strain on Chad’s limited resources and many villagers living near the camps say they are also suffering from a lack of food and water. There are also reports of ethnic clashes and the presence of rebel groups from Sudan.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Chad/2005
Children gather in a makeshift schoolyard at Farchana Refugee Camp, eastern Chad.

It is hoped that the recent peace agreement ending the 21-year-old civil war in southern Sudan will also pave the way towards an end to the Darfur conflict, which has forced 1.5 million people to flee their homes. Some 70,000 people have been killed during the two years of fighting in the region.

UNICEF remains deeply concerned about the vulnerability of children to violence and exploitation in Sudan and Chad. The organization is implementing child protection measures and is helping to train people on the ground to provide support and counselling.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Chad/2005
A young Sudanese girl collects water with a donkey at Iridimi Refugee Camp, eastern Chad.

Schools and education shelters are being set up in the camps in Chad where 44,000 primary school age children are currently enrolled. Schools can provide physical protection as well as a sense of routine and normalcy for children caught up in conflict.

“The fact that around half the children in school are entering the first grade shows that for many, the refugee camp is providing the first chance to learn to read and write,” says UNICEF Emergency Programme Officer Julianna Lindsey.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Chad/2005
Far from home, a Sudanese girl now living at Iridimi Refugee Camp, eastern Chad.

“But it’s not only the refugee children who need an education. Many local schools have closed over the years in this incredibly poor region of Chad. UNICEF wants to help all children to learn, whether they are refugees or from the local community.”

Schools can also offer a source of clean water and sanitation – particularly important in eastern Chad where there are chronic shortages. UNICEF is including latrines and hand washing facilities in all new schools in order to promote good hygiene and stop the spread of disease. There have already been hundreds of cases of Hepatitis E and several deaths caused by unsafe water in and around the camps.

There have also been confirmed cases of meningitis in recent weeks. UNICEF is supporting a vaccination programme by training health workers and securing the cold chain which is vital for storing and transporting vaccines. Some 178,000 doses arrived at the end of January and are being administered now to people in the camps.


 

 

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