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UNICEF Chad aids families fleeing violence in the Central African Republic

© UNICEF Chad/2009/Shiffer
Habiba's new baby was born in Daha refugee camp, south-eastern Chad. The family escaped fighting across the border in the Central African Republic.

By Cifora Monier

DAHA, Chad, 18 February 2009 – Musa sits quietly on a mat under a small grass shelter, and the bewilderment in his eyes is palpable. The four-year-old has recently arrived in Daha, a small village in a remote part of south-eastern Chad near the border with the Central African Republic (CAR).

Musa's mother Habiba and his sister Awa, 3, fled their village in north-eastern CAR last month, when rebel and CAR Government forces clashed in the area. "When the attackers came, they shot at everyone who tried to flee," Habiba recalls.

Habiba, who was eight and a half months pregnant, hid in her hut and then, when she saw a break in the fighting, ran with Musa and Awa. Her husband and two older children were herding cows when the attackers came and could not escape with them.

Musa helped to carry what few belongings Habiba brought with them as the family crossed the Awouk River between Chad and CAR.

Emergency Response Team deployed

UNICEF, in cooperation with other UN agencies and partners, is responding to the needs of 250,000 refugees and over 160,000 internally displaced people in eastern Chad.

© UNICEF Chad/2009/Shiffer
Habiba and one of her children await treatment at the health post in Daha camp, south-eastern Chad, where UNICEF and its partners are addressing urgent health and nutrition concerns.

Musa and his family are among the approximately 6,000 refugees – 83 per cent of them women and children – who have arrived in Daha in the past six weeks. The area is extremely remote; it takes more than three days to get here by road from the nearest population centre.

To aid families in the camp, UNICEF has deployed a seven-member Emergency Response Team, including two doctors, a water and sanitation officer and a nutritionist. More than 20 tonnes of supplies, such as jerry cans for carrying water, mosquito nets to prevent malaria and water-purification sachets, have been distributed.

In addition, life-saving medication and nutritional supplies were provided to the small health post where UNICEF staff are working alongside two Ministry of Health nurses.

Mass vaccination campaign

Because it is measles transmission season, UNICEF recently conducted a mass vaccination campaign in Daha. Health teams vaccinated children against measles and polio, conducted nutritional screening, and administered vitamin A supplements and de-worming medication.

© UNICEF Chad/2009/Shiffer
After fleeing CAR with two of her children, Habiba gave birth to a new baby in Daha refugee camp in Chad.

Another 20 tonnes of supplies and equipment has left UNICEF Abeche for Daha, including slabs to build latrines and rubber bladders to provide safe water.

"We are working to make sure that vulnerable groups such as separated and orphaned children, as well as female-headed households, have access to relief and services," said UNICEF Mission Leader John Ntambi. "This includes Musa and his family, who have already lived through so much."



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