UNICEF intensifies emergency response in the refugees and returnees’ site of Tissi, in eastern Chad
TISSI, Chad, 15 June 2013 – Damamam Salah Hamad is waiting for her turn to vaccinate Hikbal, her 4-month-old son at the Tissi health centre. On the site of returnees and refugees in Tissi, UNICEF has supported the establishment of a health centre which now allows of the treatment of common illnesses as well as malnutrition. UNICEF has currently supported the immunization of more than 30,000 children against the measles.
“Seeing the danger, my children and I fled, taking only necessary belongings with us. We have walked hundreds of miles fleeing conflict in Darfur. We did not even know where we were going to,” said Damamam.
Since March 2013, 30,000 refugees and 22,000 returnees have been registered in and around the remote and border town of Tissi. The region is characterized by chronic instability since 2004. The Government of Chad and its partners, including UNICEF, have responded as rapidly as possible to accommodate the population in these sites.
Responding to immediate needsUNICEF has established an operational base to provide humanitarian assistance. The organization has also rehabilitated the health center in Tissi and set up five emergency health posts in hosting villages. Nurses, midwives and community health workers were deployed for maternal and child health activities covering 18 villages. Thanks to this emergency response, Damamam’s family and thousands of refugees and returnees now have access to basic health care.
In two months, more than 350 children were treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition through the six outposts’ centres set up by UNICEF. More than 15,000 children under five years have also received Vitamin A supplementation and mebendazol for deworming.
“A few weeks ago, the faces of these children were hard; they had closed fists and adult-like anxious faces. They have walked hundreds of miles on foot alongside their parents, fleeing conflict in Darfur into Chad, in precarious conditions," said Zaida, a UNICEF community volunteer deployed in the site.
UNICEF has set up child-friendly spaces to provide children and their families with a variety of services such as basic health care, education, and access to safe water and adequate sanitation. The spaces, which are set up in collaboration with the Government and non-governmental organizations, also provide protection from abuse and serve as recreational spaces for children to try to return to normalcy by playing and having fun.
About 3,000 children are attending the child friendly spaces daily. In order to ensure that the child-friendly spaces are fully operational, community social workers have been recruited to manage activities, and to provide extra care as well as monitor, prevent and report on violence against children and women.
“Children are, as always, part of the most vulnerable in an emergency,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Chad. “Child-friendly spaces offer a protective environment to children traumatized by the conflict.”
More supports needed
Through partnerships with government counterparts, NGOs and the establishment of a robust supply chain worth 1.2 million US$, UNICEF provided humanitarian assistance to more than 100,000 beneficiaries, which include refugees, returnees and the vulnerable host community.
“Thanks to the support of ECHO, DFID, OFDA and National Committees, UNICEF and partners have responded well to the most recent refugee and returnee influxes, but remain vigilant given current political turmoil in neighboring countries as well as a high risk for epidemics,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Chad.
“Many of the basic necessities of life – including safe water, adequate sanitation, public health, nutrition, protection and education – are lacking. UNICEF needs to raise much-needed funds to help alleviate this situation especially for vulnerable children”, he concluded.