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UNICEF urges more international help to improve security for children in Chad

© UNICEF/HQ06-0396/Kamber
A displaced girl in Goz Amer, near the Sudanese border, a refuge for people fleeing attacks by armed militia and bandits as the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region spills over into Chad.
By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, USA, 23 May 2006 – UNICEF humanitarian workers have returned to their posts in eastern Chad after being evacuated for security reasons during the country’s recent presidential election.

While remaining concerned about the ongoing tension, UNICEF continues to provide vital support to Chadians who have been forced from their homes by the violence. The insecurity has seen around 50,000 people, 40 per cent of them children, leave their villages and move to new communities in safer parts of the country. UNICEF believes they could remain away from home for up to a year.

Chad is also host to refugee camps for some 200,000 people who have crossed the border from neighbouring Sudan to escape violence there, and a further 50,000 from the Central African Republic across the southern border.

"The current situation remains tense," explained UNICEF Representative in Chad Stephen Adkisson. "There are disparate rebel groups around the country continuing to create insecurity. The principal difficulties are in the east around the town of Abeche and near the border with Sudan. The cause of this insecurity is both the rebel activity and the Janjaweed [militia] coming across the border from Sudan, and an element called the Chadian Janjaweed.

© UNICEF/HQ06-0396/Kamber
Two displaced women and a child shelter under a tree in the town of Goz Amer, eastern Chad.

“There’s also increasing incidence of banditry, lawless elements that are taking advantage of the government’s inability to control the situation," Mr. Adkisson added.

Services for displaced families

"Chad has been for many years a forgotten emergency," said the UNICEF Representative. "It was reasonably well funded in support to the Sudanese refugees, but development support to the Chadians has not received the funds it needs.

"UNICEF support to the internally displaced Chadians starts with the provision of water both to the welcoming communities and to the new arrivals,” he continued. “We provide education facilities, establish temporary schools, supply school materials and train new teachers. We provide health care facilities, vaccination against measles, essential drugs and provision of mosquito nets in an area where malaria is the number-one cause of death amongst children.”

Mr. Adkisson pointed out as well that UNICEF Chad offers psycho-social support to children who have witnessed atrocities in their home communities and now need an opportunity “to get on with their new lives."

At the beginning of this month, UNICEF issued a $12.3 million humanitarian appeal to help respond to the needs of internally displaced and refugee families in eastern Chad – including health, nutrition, water and environmental sanitation, education and child protection.

Meanwhile, the UNICEF Water, Environment and Sanitation Officer in the Abeche field office who was attacked and shot at on 5 May, Sylvia Gaya, remains in hospital in serious condition but is said to be improving.




22 May 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter reports on emergency aid for 50,000 Chadians who have been forced from their homes by violence in eastern Chad.
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