Chad: ICRC activities March-April 2007
08-05-2007 Operational Update
Humanitarian needs are growing constantly due to an upsurge of violence in southeastern Chad. The following is an overview of the ICRC's key activities over the past two months.
The humanitarian situation
The ICRC focuses its assistance on those who have fallen victim to the armed conflict. As such, its main focus is on populations who are displaced, and the host population receiving them, as well as the weapon-wounded during the clashes – including civilians and military alike.
After a long period of relative calm during most of February and March, the southeastern region of Dar Sila, located close to the border with Sudan, was the scene of one of the most violent inter-community attacks that has occurred. On 31 March, neighbouring communities attacked the two villages of Marena (924 residents and 3,622 internally displaced people – IDPs) and Tiéro (998 residents and 2,599 IDPs). Several people were killed, others wounded. The people of Marena and Tiéro fled for safety towards the town of Koukou, which is close to one of the 12 Sudanese refugee camps in eastern Chad.
A few days later, the Chadian National Army (ANT) fought against one of the main armed opposition groups, the Convention National du Tchad (CNT), a member of the greater Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) alliance. Since mid-January, this group had taken and maintained control of Dogdoré, located around 30 km east of Tiéro, site of the 31 March attack.
Because of the confrontation between the ANT and the CNT, the latter was pushed eastwards towards the border with Sudan. Witnesses report significant losses of men and hardware. Reportedly, during pursuit the Chadian army entered Sudanese territory and clashed with Sudanese military, killing some of their men, and causing Sudan to protest.
Since 31 March, the ICRC has evacuated twenty wounded to the nearest hospital in Goz Beïda by ICRC aircraft, among them five serious cases to Abéché, where ICRC surgical teams operated on them. In total 147 people fleeing the scene of the attack were evacuated to safety by ICRC teams in trucks and land cruisers.
Dogdoré's few thousand residents host today around 30,000 displaced people, most of whom had fled over the past year from armed clashes between the rebel and national army troops in the border area, as well as from cross border cattle rustling raids throughout 2006. The latest military confrontation led to further displacement of several thousand people. The combination of internal armed conflict, fighting, and the spillover of insecurity from Darfur have afflicted Chad with a growing humanitarian crisis culminating in more than 120,000 displaced Chadians and many wounded and dead.
Evacuation and treatment of war-wounded:
The ICRC evacuated 20 wounded since 31 March to the nearest hospital in Goz Beïda by ICRC aircraft, and among these, five more serious cases to Abéché, where an ICRC surgical team operated on them.
Since 8 April, the ICRC brought 127 particularly vulnerable persons, elderly, children and sick, from the area of Marena and Tiéro to Koukou, the village where their family members taken refuge. The evacuated had not been able to travel to Koukou by foot. In total, 147 persons fleeing the scene of attack were transported by trucks and land cruisers to the safety of Koukou.
The ICRC surgical team in Abéché also operated on three war-wounded after the ANT/ CNT confrontation of early April.
The ICRC began a food distribution program in mid-March covering a total of approximately 50,000 displaced and resident populations of the towns of Adé, Kerfi, Koukou and Dogdoré in eastern Chad, which has been planned in two phases to cover a 42-day food ration each, totalling 3 months. This distribution is to cover the food gap between the dry season and harvest after the annual rains.
To date, in Adé and Kerfi, some 12,000 displaced people and residents have benefited from two rounds of food distributions covering 3 months of needs.
8,223 people , who had just fled to Koukou from Marena and Tiéro, have received food covering their needs for 42 days.
The ICRC is currently distributing food to 30,000 displaced people in Dogdoré – the first round of a 42-day food ration to be followed up and completed with the second round, just prior to the rainy season in June. The IDP population in Dogdoré has grown by some 5,000 persons following the fighting between the national army and the CNT in April.
Food commodities are at the disposal of the ICRC under an institutional agreement between the ICRC and the World Food Programme (WFP) which allows the two institutions to transfer or exchange stoc ks.
On 25 February in the Kekerké-Dar Tama region: the ICRC distributed non-food items to over 1,000 people who had been forced to flee their homes due to inter-communal clashes. The assistance consisted of blankets, mats, tarpaulins, buckets and soap.
Additional non-food distributions prior to the rains in June are aimed at 6,000 displaced families (30,000 people) in Dogdoré.
Seeds and tools distributions are about to start for over 8,000 families or 40,000 people in the same area: Adé, Kerfi and Dogdoré located in the Dar Sila region, and another 15,000 displaced people of Allacha, Goundoung and Goz Baar, located in the Dar Assoungha region. This includes a hoe for each household and seeds consisting of 10 kg each of millet, sorghum and groundnuts.
Water and habitat activities, such as construction of wells: more than 20 wells were built in 2006, and the ICRC hopes to build at least another 20 in 2007.
ICRC supports two health posts that were rehabilitated and given start-up supplies in Dogdoré and Gou ngour to provide medical services to the displaced and host communities;
a surgical team is based in Abéché and another in N'Djamena for the treatment of war-wounded patients.
On 10 April the ICRC brought 87 abandoned donkeys back to their proper owners who had to leave them behind following the violent attacks on Tiéro and Marena on 31 March. These displaced people depend on the donkeys for their livelihood.
Income generating projects
Income generating projects are ongoing in the region and are adapted to existing sources of income. The ICRC assists mostly displaced women, who are the principal providers, with means to boost crop production and to introduce them to the construction of storage facilities.
Regions of Assoungha (towns of Alach and Goungour) and Dar Sila (Tour and Dogdoré): manual pedaled pumps were introduced to irrigate vegetable cultivation, allowing a 20-fold increase in cash crop production which is low maintenance and requires very little fuel.
Alacha in Dar Assoungha region: sun-dried clay brick production which doesn't require fire and therefore spares further wood depletion – to build grain storage facilities for the gap months between harvest and planting seasons.
Health – war wounded
two health posts rehabilitated and given start-up first aid supplies in Dogdoré and Goungour to provide services to the displaced and host communities;
two surgical teams: based in Abéché – the main referral hospital in the Eastern region, and N'Djamena to operate on war-wounded and prepare the hospitals for large influx of wounded;
emergency medical evacuations: during the latest inter-communal attacks, 20 were transported to the nearest health structure and 5 were flown to Abéché where the ICRC surgical team treated the seriously wounded.
Following the latest clashes between the Chadian Armed Forces and CNT of 9 April, a number of persons were arrested and are detained by the Chadian authorities. The ICRC was granted access to the detainees and delegates visited and registered them. Their detention conditions will be monitored.
In connection to the displaced people as well as military clashes, the ICRC is closely monitoring the potential needs of unaccompanied and separated children for tracing and Red Cross message services.
The ICRC is reminding all parties to the conflict of customary IHL and rules of engagement, which prohibit attacks on unarmed civilians and require the protection of resident populations.