Emergency assistance to victims of floods in Chad

Briefing Notes, 13 August 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 13 August 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Floods have affected large areas of Chad since mid-July, following the heaviest rainfall recorded in forty years. Up to 9000 people are believed affected. UNHCR is currently distributing essential survival items including blankets, plastic sheeting, and bed mats to around 2,500 families. This emergency help comes as a contribution to the ongoing national effort, under the coordination of the Chadian government, to which other UN agencies and NGOs are also participating.

The flooding follows two years of drought. Torrential rains, while bringing hope to some for a productive farming season, have in other places destroyed entire villages and inundated cultivated land.

Large areas are affected by the flooding. At least 1,800 families are homeless in the northern town of Faya Largeau. No region has been spared, with particularly heavy rains in the North (Tibesti, Ennedi), West (Bongor), South-East (Salamat) and East (Darh Sila region). Some districts of the capital N'Djamena are also affected.

UNHCR is also tapping into its stocks to dispatch relief items to areas where we have an established field presence to support refugees and internally displaced persons, such as Goz Beida, Koukou, the Darh-Sila region, and Adre in the Ouaddai region.

In Goz Beida, shelter and other relief have supplies have been distributed to the 416 families who are affected by the floods. Among the local population, about a thousand people had to be relocated, some hosted by neighbours or in schools. For families at risk, an interim site has been identified, although many are reluctant to leave their homes behind. Thirty kilometres from Goz in Koukou-Angarana 47 families recently had to flee their homes, while in Habile 154 families have been warned that their homes are under threat. In the past few days, in Hille Djedid camp for internally displaced persons, located near Adre, we have received reports that a number of families have had to flee their homes as the river banks overflowed. UNHCR participates in local crisis committees to encourage families at risk to relocate

UNHCR operations as a whole have been hampered throughout Chad. Several of our vehicles were washed away by raging waters in overflooded wadis (riverbeds), and our staff are regularly cut off some having to overnight on the road en-route to refugee or IDP sites.

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Crisis in the Central African Republic

Little has been reported about the humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the Central African Republic (CAR), where at least 295,000 people have been forced out of their homes since mid-2005. An estimated 197,000 are internally displaced, while 98,000 have fled to Chad, Cameroon or Sudan. They are the victims of fighting between rebel groups and government forces.

Many of the internally displaced live in the bush close to their villages. They build shelters from hay, grow vegetables and even start bush schools for their children. But access to clean water and health care remains a huge problem. Many children suffer from diarrhoea and malaria but their parents are too scared to take them to hospitals or clinics for treatment.

Cattle herders in northern CAR are menaced by the zaraguina, bandits who kidnap children for ransom. The villagers must sell off their livestock to pay.

Posted on 21 February 2008

Crisis in the Central African Republic

Battling the Elements in Chad

More than 180,000 Sudanese refugees have fled violence in Sudan's Darfur region, crossing the border to the remote desert of eastern Chad.

It is one of the most inhospitable environments UNHCR has ever had to work in. Vast distances, extremely poor road conditions, scorching daytime temperatures, sandstorms, the scarcity of vegetation and firewood, and severe shortages of drinkable water have been major challenges since the beginning of the operation. Now, heavy seasonal rains are falling, cutting off the few usable roads, flooding areas where refugees had set up makeshift shelters, and delaying the delivery of relief supplies.

Despite the enormous environmental challenges, UNHCR has so far managed to establish nine camps and relocate the vast majority of the refugees who are willing to move from the volatile border.

Battling the Elements in Chad

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

Since fighting broke out in Sudan's western region of Darfur last year, more than 110,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad. They are scattered along a 600-km stretch of desert borderland under a scorching sun during the day and freezing temperatures during the night.

Access to these refugees in this inhospitable region is difficult. Staff of the UN refugee agency drive for days to locate them. Bombing in the border zone and cross-border raids by militia from Sudan put the refugees at risk and underscore the urgent need to move them to camps in the interior. In addition, the approach of the rainy season in May will make the sandy roads impassable. Aid workers are racing against time in an attempt bring emergency relief to these refugees.

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

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