CHAD, 23 January 2004 - In response to the rapidly deteriorating situation of Sudanese refugees in Chad, UNICEF is moving ahead on a series of activities, including a measles campaign for nearly 86,000 children from six months to 14 years old (refugees and host population), as well as a Vitamin A distribution, in coordination with MSF Belgium and MSF Holland.
The distribution of 22,000 blankets (200,000 USD), donated on 5 January by a special air shipment, is also underway and is being carried out by UNHCR. In addition, provision of therapeutic milk, in support of MSF therapeutic feeding center is being supplied.
The first consignment of slates and chalk will be distributed to 450 children and their teachers who have started spontaneous school activities in the site of Tine. 5,000 school books from Sudan are soon to be sent.
UNICEF will address specific funding request to donors to cover the cost of a long term response to this emergency situation beginning next week.
Children need to go back to school as soon as possible and they need help to get out of the psychosocial trauma they have experienced, witnessing violence against their parents and seeing their houses burning.
According to UNICEF staff in the ground, the situation of the most vulnerable children and women is getting really critical. In eastern Chad, the temperature drops to close to zero Celcius at night and the number of acute respiratory infection diseases is increasing rapidly. Together with malnutrition and bad hygienic conditions, most of the refugee children are in serious danger.
Many refugees came without any belongings as they fled violent militia attacks on their village. They survived thanks to the help and the hospitality of the local population. Many express their fear that the militia men could cross into Chad and attack their camps, mostly makeshifts huts with branches and straw, at night.
For further information, please contact:
Margherita Amodeo, UNICEF Media, Dakar, Senegal +221 869 58 42
Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF CHAD, 00 235 51 89 89