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Chad: more than 180,000 displaced contend with lack of security in east of country

10-10-2008 Operational Update

Despite difficult security conditions, ICRC staff are pressing ahead with their activities aiming at addressing the needs of the people worst affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence in eastern Chad. The lack of security remains the primary factor impeding displaced people from returning to their homes, and the main challenge for the delivery of humanitarian aid. ICRC activities from July to September 2008

 Overview  

    

More than 180,000 people are still displaced internally in eastern Chad. Some are returning to their homes, but those who do so come mostly from one area: southern Assoungha. Although there has been no military operation since June, lawlessness, banditry and a general lack of security have not only made it difficult for displaced people to return to their homes but have also impaired living conditions for all civilians.

In the run-up to the rainy season, the ICRC worked to ensure that people who were less able to meet their own needs as a result of the armed conflict would survive until harvest time. " Now that the rainy season is over, people in eastern Chad need security to be able to harvest in the coming months, " said David de Wild, who coordinates ICRC relief activities in the country.

The proliferation of arms, the absence of law enforcement in some parts of the country and impunity add to the volatility of the situation and affect the way humanitarian organizations go about their work.

On 26 July, an ICRC employee was shot and wounded in a carjacking attempt in Abéché. While she is now out of danger, the incident is all too typical of what civilians in eastern Chad have to contend with as they try to go about their daily lives and earn a living.

In its dialogue with the Chadian authorities, the ICRC has stressed how important it is that concrete measures be taken that will allow the population to live in safety and humanitarian aid to be d elivered.

 Working to limit the impact of armed conflict and other situations of violence on civilians  

    

To help improve the living conditions of detainees, the ICRC has built a septic tank and renovated sanitary facilities in the Abéché prison. This prison is one of 33 detention facilities where detainees are visited by ICRC staff in Chad.

The ICRC continued its efforts discover the whereabouts of 405 children who have been separated from their parents or who are unaccompanied, some of whom may have fallen into the hands of armed forces and armed groups. Although its task remain difficult, the organization tirelessly continued to process other tracing requests from civilians wishing to re-establish contact with their loved ones.

ICRC staff remained in humanitarian dialogue with all fighting parties to the conflict regarding the situation of civilians, to ensure a better respect of international humanitarian law and limit the impact of the conflict on their lives and security.

    

 Improving access to water  

    

The ICRC's efforts to improve access to water for people living in the border areas continued unabated. These activities are based on agreements between the ICRC and Chadian water authorities and are carried out in cooperation with local communities.

" Because of the armed conflict and the remote location, the public authorities have been able to do very little. There has been no maintenance of the water-supply system in the recent past at all, " said Ruth Merki, the ICRC coordinator for water and habitat in Chad.

To make sure that people have continuous access to water, the ICRC has carried out repair work on water mains in the towns of Adé, Adré and Iriba in such a way that the system will be easy to maintain with limited technical expertise or supervision. It is estimated that around 57,000 people – internally displaced and residents alike – will benefit.

The Adé project was handed over in June to a non-governmental organization, Solidarités , which will henceforth be in charge of supervision and follow-up.

With help from the local population, the ICRC has begun building two additional wells in rural areas of Assoungha, which should be finished towards the end of the year.

 Improving health-care services  

    

  • Assisting the war-wounded: the ICRC continues to support Liberty Hospital in N'Djamena. A four-person ICRC surgical team is at the hospital, to which the organization has also been delivering supplies. The ICRC surgical team has been sent five times to Abéché Hospital to provide follow-up surgical care for 20 weapon-wounded patients.

    

  • Improving maternal and child health: the ICRC has completed a vaccination campaign against measles in remote North Assungha areas (Kawa), where a further 1,149 children aged 1 to 14 years were immunized against the disease.

    

  • Helping the war-wounded get back on their feet: the ICRC has maintained its support for the two physical rehabilitation centres in Chad. At the N'Djamena Rehabilitation Centre, war victims continue to receive orthotic or prosthetic appliances free of charge.

    

 Raising awareness of rules protecting civilians  

The ICRC works to ensure that victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence receive adequate assistance and the protection they are entitled to under international humanitarian law. This involves spreading knowledge of the rules protecting civilians in time of conflict, in particular by supporting efforts to incorporate these rules in the training, doctrine and procedures of the armed and security forces.

The ICRC:

  • organized briefing sessions throughout the country for more than 240 members of the armed and security forces;

  • has provided instructional support for the teaching of international humanitarian law at the army's international humanitarian law instructors'training college and at Abéché University;

  • has participated in instructing 120 new policemen due to join the police force trained by the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).