Chad: assisting migrants and other vulnerable groups

27-10-2011 Operational Update

In a context that has evolved from an emergency situation to relative stability in eastern and southern Chad, the ICRC has been pursuing its activities to assist vulnerable groups. It has focused its efforts on helping migrants, particularly those who have fled Libya since the outbreak of armed conflict in February 2011.

Chad is still structurally fragile, a direct result of past conflicts. It continues to play host to almost 285,000 Sudanese refugees, 95,000 Central African refugees and several tens of thousands of economic migrants who have returned from Libya.

Although there are no longer armed clashes taking place inside Chad, the security situation remains volatile. Crime, the proliferation of light weapons and its porous borders have kept the country in a state of uncertainty.
In carrying out its activities for displaced persons, those suffering from gunshot wounds, detainees and other vulnerable groups, the ICRC has adopted a pragmatic approach to the evolving humanitarian needs. It is pursuing its long-term operations in the east and south, while adapting them as required, and it is providing a flexible response to the emerging situations in the north.
Below is a summary of what was achieved between January and June 2011:

Visiting people deprived of their liberty

ICRC teams continued their visits to the main places of detention managed by the office of the president and the Ministries of Defence, the Interior and Justice. The aim was to assess the detainees' situation and make recommendations to the prison authorities in order to improve conditions of detention.
In the first half of 2011, the ICRC:

  •  visited 3,570 detainees;
  •  facilitated contact between detainees and their families through Red Cross messages, salamat greeting calls and short telephone calls;
  •  contributed to the travel costs of security detainees granted an amnesty to return home;
  •  organized a workshop on the issues of health, water and sanitation for various prison staff, including a dozen officials in charge of those services.

Restoring family links

As part of its endeavour to restore and maintain links between people separated by conflicts and other situations of violence, the ICRC continued its initiatives to help Sudanese and Central African refugees, displaced populations and Chadian migrants fleeing the fighting in Libya to contact their families.

  • 793 Red Cross messages were collected and 616 delivered;
  •  144 children (including some former child soldiers and Sudanese refugees) were reunited with their loved ones, while a further 34 family reunifications were facilitated by the ICRC;
  •  63 children associated with armed forces and groups renewed contact with their families;
  •  at their families' request, 26 people were located;
  •  working together with the Red Cross of Chad, the ICRC made possible more than 3,000 telephone calls and distributed over 1,300 SIM cards to Chadians fleeing the conflict in Libya.

Assisting displaced persons returning home and their communities

People forced to flee the Kouno and Korbol region, in the south of the country, because of fighting in December 2009 started returning at the beginning of the year. The ICRC supported this process by providing material and financial support to 12 groups of men and seven groups of women, while 77 households received goats. Some 100 families were supplied with fresh produce. In addition, the livestock of some 1,020 households was vaccinated to protect it from a recent ovine rinderpest epidemic. This assistance benefited almost half of the households affected by the violence that had taken place in the area.
In eastern Chad, where the situation is getting back to normal after clashes last broke out in April 2010, the ICRC completed its economic-assistance programme involving training for veterinary nurses, assistance to veterinary services and support for farming. In the first six months of the year, some 40,000 doses of vaccines were supplied to the authorities and almost 40 veterinary nurses received training and equipment to care for the animals belonging to almost 2,700 families. Hoes and seed were distributed to nearly 3,000 households and farming capacity-building courses run for around 50 community representatives.

Treating the wounded

In light of the lull in the fighting in Chad for many months, the ICRC surgical team opened its doors to surgical emergencies of all kinds, covering the costs of treating the poor and people with gunshot wounds.

  • Between the beginning of January and the end of May 2011, 442 operations were performed.
    The ICRC continued to provide support to Abéché hospital by training both teachers and students of the school of public health, and training and paying the salaries of new physiotherapists. In addition, hygiene products, medical equipment and medicines were supplied and water and sanitation initiatives carried out.

Supporting physical rehabilitation centres

The ICRC remained the main source of support for the Kabalaye limb-fitting and rehabilitation centre in N'Djamena and the Maison Notre Dame de la Paix in Moundou in the south of the country. These two centres continued to receive support to improve their services for victims of armed violence as well as amputees from the east and north of the country.203 amputees received treatment;

  • 83 new patients were fitted with artificial limbs;
  • 189 artificial limbs were provided (135 of which to mine victims);
  •  78 new patients were fitted with orthotic devices;
  •  201 orthotic devices were supplied (18 of which to mine victims).

Preventing violations of international humanitarian law

Carrying out an action plan to promote international humanitarian law (IHL) agreed on by the ICRC and leaders of Chad's armed forces, the ICRC held sessions designed to spread knowledge of IHL among different weapon-bearers.
More than 1,500 members of the defence and security forces from military academies, regional commands and operational units now have a better understanding of the law of war and the role of the ICRC. The sessions, sometimes run jointly with Chadian military instructors, focused on protecting civilians and humanitarian organizations. Several sessions were also held for 300 members of the Integrated Security Detachment, which is responsible for the safety of displaced persons and humanitarian workers.

Cooperating with the Red Cross of Chad

As part of the drive to increase cooperation within the Movement, the ICRC supported the Red Cross of Chad's efforts in terms of disaster-management preparation, promoting humanitarian principles and restoring family links.
Working closely with the National Society, the ICRC helped 16,000 Chadian migrants who had fled the violence in Libya to contact their families through a telephone network set up in Faya-Largeau.
In 2011, the ICRC supported first-aid training ahead of the elections and the construction of two regional offices for the National Society in Batha and Guera.



Distribution of seeds in eastern Chad
© ICRC / M. Keller


Migrants coming back home after some time in Libya


A family reunion
© ICRC / T. Gassmann