Chad: chronic insecurity and localized violence in the east of the country
12-06-2009 Operational Update
More than two years after tens of thousands of people were displaced by violent clashes in eastern Chad, humanitarian problems persist as a result of chronic insecurity and localized violence, particularly in the border areas. The ICRC continues to assist the displaced, the war-wounded and detainees, as well as the most vulnerable members of the local population. ICRC activities from January to April 2009.
The ICRC estimates there to be currently 160,000 displaced persons in eastern Chad. This estimate takes into consideration seasonal return and short-term return, as well as the families who are travelling back and forth between their villages and the place where they have found refuge.
Several factors are preventing thousands of displaced persons from returning home on a more permanent basis. First, crime is a growing problem in regions where the authorities have a limited presence and their ability to maintain order is weak. Arms proliferation is also contributing to deteriorating security conditions and affecting civilian safety, as is the difficulty of re-establishing mechanisms for community coexistence and the resolution of conflicts (in particular over land and water).
In addition, there are around 250,000 Sudanese refugees in the region, making the situation even more challenging in security and humanitarian terms.
In this unstable environment, the ICRC seeks to take account of the needs of the different groups of people: Chadians who have been affected by internal violence – the displaced and those who have recently or partially returned home – as well as the most vulnerable members of the host communities.
As in 2008, the ICRC is focusing on the departments of Sila, Assoungha and Dar Tama, close to the border with Sudan, where owing to the levels of violence and the risk o f conflict, humanitarian workers are increasingly scarce.
Promoting respect for the civilian population
The ICRC maintains a regular presence not only in eastern Chad, but also in the south, middle and north of the country. Based on reports of violence from victims and/or eye witnesses, the ICRC documents incidents and abuses committed against the civilian population.
As part of its confidential and regular dialogue with the authorities and weapon bearers (armed forces and armed groups), the ICRC reminds them of their obligation to respect the life and dignity of persons not or no longer participating in the hostilities, and to take the necessary measures to bring all abuses to an end. This includes a prohibition on recruiting children into the armed forces or armed groups.
The ICRC also underlines that the authorities must improve security conditions in eastern Chad so that people can live there in peace, to prevent further displacement, and to allow those who have been displaced to return home. The ICRC has also stepped up its activities to protect people from the risk of explosive remnants of war, which contaminate more areas of Chadian territory every time there is a clash.
Visiting people who have been deprived of their freedom
The aim of these visits is to check that people are detained in conditions which are decent and that their physical and mental integrity and their rights are respe cted. The ICRC engages in regular dialogue with the various detaining authorities.
Between January and the end of April 2009, the ICRC carried out 24 visits to different places of detention and visited 1290 detainees.
Restoring family links
The ICRC identifies and registers refugee children separated from their families and other vulnerable persons in the refugee camps in eastern Chad. The ICRC in Sudan then searches for their families, so that they can get back in contact by exchanging Red Cross messages. Since the beginning of 2009, over 1,600 messages have been collected and distributed between persons separated by the violence.
The ICRC also works to restore family links for former child soldiers. Over the same period, eight Red Cross messages were collected from these children to be forwarded to their parents, who had been traced by the ICRC, while six messages were distributed to them.
Assisting the displaced, the returnees and the local population
Between January and April 2009, the ICRC distributed emergency aid to civilians in eastern Chad who had lost their livelihoods following the inter-community violence, and to those returning to their home villages. Over 350 families, around 1,800 people, received essential items in the departments of Sila and Assoungha. Some of these distributions were carried out in conjunction with the Red Cross of Chad.
To encourage the displaced population to meet their basic food needs themselves and thus gradually reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid, the ICRC distributed vegetable see ds and 28 water pumps to 180 families in different villages in Assoungha.
The ICRC provided the veterinary post in Goz Beida (Sila) with over 81,000 vaccine doses for the livestock in the region. This covers the needs of around 1,600 livestock-raising families.
Caring for the war-wounded
The ICRC would like Abéché hospital to be able to fulfil its role as the regional hospital of reference in the east of the country for treating the war-wounded and others in need of emergency surgery.
During the first four months of the year, the ICRC surgical team:
travelled twice to areas close to the Sudanese border to treat 62 war-wounded patients who needed urgent care but could not be transferred to Abéché;
treated 15 war-wounded patients in Abéché hospital;
dealt with 75 other urgent surgical cases at Abéché hospital.
Furthermore, the ICRC continues to support La Liberté hospital in N'Djamena, supplying drugs and an emergency stock of surgical equipment.
Supporting physical rehabilitation centres
As a logical counterpart of the emergency surgery programme, the ICRC supports the Kabalaye limb-fitting and rehabilitation centre ( Centre d'appareillage et de rééducation de Kabalaye, CARK ) in N'Djamena and the Maison Notre Dame de Paix in Moundou, southern Chad, to enable, as far as possibl e, amputees and the disabled to lead an active and independent life again.
Since the beginning of 2009:
the centres in N'Djamena and Moundou have produced and fitted 38 prostheses (28 of which were for war victims) and 19 ortheses;
the ICRC has referred 20 amputees from the east and north of the country to N'Djamena, and has covered their accommodation costs for the duration of their treatment;
at the CARK in N'Djamena, a new physiotherapy building has been constructed;
four Chadian technicians have taken an advanced training course in Addis Ababa.
Improving access to water
In the departments of Sila and Assoungha, which border Sudan, the ICRC has sunk and/or repaired and upgraded eight of the 30 wells planned for 2009. The aim is to ensure that a total of 36,000 people (resident population – displaced and hosts – and returnees) and their livestock have access to water of a better quality and quantity.
In the border town of Adré, water-system improvement works have been completed, and the systems were handed over to the authorities in January. These included the construction of a pumping station, a storage tank and a tap stand by the ICRC.
Preventing violations of international humanitarian law
ICRC delegates continued their efforts to raise awareness of the ICRC’s mandate and of the rules o f international humanitarian law which protect civilians in times of armed conflict. Information sessions were regularly organized around the country for soldiers, police officers, community leaders, students, political authorities and other civil society groups.
In addition, the ICRC continued to support the Chadian authorities’ efforts to integrate international humanitarian law into their national legislation, as well as into the training, doctrine and operational procedures of the armed and security forces.
Cooperation with the Red Cross of Chad
The ICRC helps the Red Cross of Chad disseminate humanitarian principles, restore family links and prepare for medical emergencies.
Since the beginning of 2009, the ICRC has supported:
the ongoing training of first-aiders in life-saving skills
the training of volunteers from Chadian civil society to act as “relays”, passing on information on humanitarian principles and raising awareness of the risks posed by mines and explosive remnants of war, particularly in regions likely to the scene for armed clashes;
the final stages of the construction of regional offices of the Red Cross of Chad in Doba and Goré in the south of the country and in Faya, a town in the northern region of Borkou.