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Chad : first assistance operations in the areas where displaced persons are returning

14-08-2008 Operational Update

The instability which has been prevailing for years in eastern Chad has continued to mar the chances of persons displaced in this region to return home as well as the security of the humanitarian organizations assisting and protecting them. Yet despite this environment the ICRC has continued its work to help displaced persons.

 

Humanitarian situation 
 

Through bilateral dialogue with all of the parties to the conflict the organization has managed to obtain access to areas where people's weakened survival mechanisms are compounded by the absence of administrative and military authorities and where the ICRC is sometimes the only organization present, as is the case in northern Assoungha.

June was marked by armed clashes between the National Alliance - a coalition of armed opposition groups - and the UFCD on the one hand and the Chadian armed forces on the other. The fighting in inhabited areas involved in this confrontation resulted in numerous casualties including civilians, although it is not yet possible to cite precise figures, given the many different theatres of operations.

 
Diversifying approaches in order to maintain household production capacities 
 

The ICRC has continued its efforts to provide emergency aid to persons affected by armed violence. Although the prevailing insecurity is still impeding return movements, almost 2,115 displaced families have begun to return to southern Assoungha.

Since the second half of 2007 the stability in the region has enabled many families from the Borota border area to return to their homes and land. This voluntary return has also been motivated by the opportunity to cultiva te large areas in their home villages. But despite the fact that agricultural land is available many families have needed support to prepare for the coming farming year. What is more, the fact that thousands of families are returning means that housing needs to be repaired so that they can settle back in decent conditions as the rainy season approaches.

The ICRC has developed schemes for supporting these returns when security conditions permit by providing the families concerned with tools as well as sorghum, millet and groundnut seeds. A good harvest should enable the population groups concerned to cover their basic needs until the next harvest and should thus help these households to gradually regain self-sufficiency in food production.

Furthermore, 90-day food rations were also distributed in May and June to all of the families living in the return area to tide them over with food stocks until the harvest.

In May 2008, over 2,000 families in the Borota return area received this aid in the form of seeds, tools, food rations and utensils, and a second ration was distributed in June to 2,192 families who had returned to the same area.

 
Aid continues in sites for displaced people 
 

Despite this favourable trend, there are still 1,975 families living in sites for displaced persons such as the Arkoum, Goundiang and Hille Deye sites in southern Assoungha. Although their displacement has been prolonged, these families have access to land either in the host regions or in their home villages.

One of the main challenges in providing aid in a widely varying situation such as in eastern Chad is to develop a coherent approach to supporting people's return while bearing the needs of the families remaining at the sites in mind and res pecting their decision not to return home for the time being. It is essential, however, that the fact that humanitarian aid is or is not being provided should not be a determining factor in the decision to return. By diversifying its response on the basis of needs analysis and good knowledge of the situation, the ICRC endeavours to develop programmes which do not contribute to any artificial prolonging of displacement and which respect the decisions of the target groups.

The displaced persons were thus given the same aid for the coming farming year as that received by households in the return areas with a view to boosting output and limiting their dependence on humanitarian aid.

  • In May 2008, 1,975 displaced families in Arkoum, Goundiang and Hille Deye were given kits of dryland seeds and agricultural tools. This aid for the 2008 farming year was supplemented by a 30-day seed-protection food ration. Furthermore, in Adé (in the Dar Sila region), where the ICRC is the only humanitarian actor operating in the food security field, the organization has adopted the same approach as in Assoungha with a view to supporting household production, already distributing seeds, tools and food rations to 3,250 displaced households in May.
     
  • In June 2008, a second 60-day food ration was distributed to 3,191 displaced households in Adé and Charoub Tama and to 2,010 displaced families in southern Assoungha.

And finally, the ICRC has continued to monitor the activities of the market-gardening groups involved in the Dogdoré production projects in Dar Sila.

 
Effects of insecurity on the life styles and production of nomadic and semi-nomadic population groups 
 

The deterioration in security condit ions in eastern Chad is also affecting people who depend on animal farming for a livelihood, since, in order to avoid the tension areas, they are moving farther and farther away from urban centres and thus also from the veterinary services that are so vital to their lifestyle as well as to their food and economic security. The veterinary services located in the border area are also affected by the prevailing instability and have difficulty reaching their stock farmers.

In this context, the ICRC has maintained its programmes for improving veterinary health. Working together with the Chadian veterinary services, the organization has contributed to the training provided for 61 veterinary assistants in the Dar Sila and Dar Zaghawa regions and has further donated 18,250 vaccines against the principal animal diseases to the Goz Beida veterinary centre with a view to preventing epidemics which can potentially decimate livestock and thus many households'source of income.

These measures enable 3,050 households who depend mainly or entirely on animal husbandry for a living to improve the health of their livestock, reduce the mortality rate and improve the quality of animal products (meat, fat, milk).

 
Other projects run by the ICRC delegation 
 

 Water supply  

 The ICRC has:

  • repaired the water mains in the towns of Adé, Adré and Iriba;

  • built two wells in the rural areas of Dar Sila and Assoungha;

  • cleaned 12 open wells in Adré and in southern Assoungha.

 Assistance to war casualties  

 The ICRC has:

  • supplied medicines, medical supplies, hygien e necessities and bedding to the hospital in Abéché in order to facilitate care for the wounded after the fighting in June 2008;

  • donated dressing kits to the infirmary in the Abéché military zone and to the Goungour and Am Zoer health centres.

 Improving maternal and child health  

 The ICRC has:

  • provided structural support (repairs, building work) and material aid (medicines, dressings, etc.) for four health centres in Assoungha (Arkoum, Borota, Goungour and Kawa);

  • trained 95 midwives in Borota, Goungour and Kawa;

  • vaccinated 6,912 children from 1 to 14 years of age against measles.

    

 Protecting the dignity and integrity of civilians  

 The ICRC has:

  • visited 1,063 detainees in 33 places of detention;

  • continued its efforts to help families trace 405 unaccompanied children or children who have been separated from their parents, 26 of whom are associated with armed groups and forces;

  • followed up 12 tracing requests filed in Sudan, 62 filed in Chad, and 2 filed by the ICRC or a National Society in third countries;

  • reunited 6 children involved with the organization Zoe's Ark with their parents living in Sudan.

    

 Preventing the violation of international humanitarian law  

 The ICRC:

  • has organized briefing sessions throughout the country for almost 260 officers and NCOs from the ANT, the gendarmerie and Chadian nomad national guard, and the national police force.

  • has provided instructional support for the teaching of IHL at the army's IHL instructors'training college and at Abéché University.

  • taken part in the training provided by MINURCAT for members of the Integrated Security Detachment.

 
Cooperation with the Red Cross of Chad 
 

The ICRC has continued its efforts to support the Red Cross of Chad in the fields of disaster management preparation, dissemination of fundamental principles and restoring family links.