UNHCR condemns attack on displaced in western Chad, pledges continued help

UNHCR deplores the violence and mourns the loss of life caused by suicide attacks at the weekend in the western Chad town of Baga Sola

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 13 October 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR deplores the violence and mourns the loss of life caused by suicide attacks at the weekend in the western Chad town of Baga Sola.

We are particularly concerned about the attack at the Kousseri site for internally displaced Chadians in Baga Sola that left at least 22 people dead in an area where UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have been trying to help provide protection and assistance to tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes by the conflict with Boko Haram.

Local and UN security reports say suicide bombers, including three women and two children, attacked the market and the Kousseri site for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Baga Sola on Saturday afternoon. The latest toll at the two locations stands at 47 people dead with dozens injured. The most serious cases were flown by helicopter to N'Djamena.

UNHCR works with other agencies in the Dar Es Salam refugee camp, 10 kilometres from Baga Sola. All our staff in the area and the 7,139 refugees from Nigeria and Niger in the camp are safe, but we have suspended travel to and within the Lake Chad region. UN flights are on standby to evacuate people or bring in emergency supplies.

In recent weeks UNHCR has stepped up assistance to alleviate the difficult situation of the 60,000 internally displaced people in the lake area, distributing vital non-food items to more than 32,800. Many of these people were relocated from their island homes earlier this year as Lake Chad effectively became a war zone. Other agencies including MSF, WFP, UNICEF and the Red Cross Movement are also responding to the humanitarian needs of IDPs.

Conditions for the displaced are dire. Most are short of food, shelter and medical attention. Their makeshift shelters, some made with flimsy mosquito nets, provide little protection against insects or the elements during the current rainy season.

Aside from aid distributions, UNHCR has also supported the government by transporting food items from the capital for the displaced in the lake area, including rice, oil and sugar.

The attack on Baga Sola has shown how vulnerable and isolated the displaced are in the lake area, but we welcome the government's determination to improve security. UNHCR remains committed to help the displaced in western Chad and we urge the international community to support Chad as it addresses this.

The attack in Baga Sola, the first on the town, came a day before female suicide bombers killed nine people in Kangaleri, northern Cameroon.

Chad hosts some 438,000 refugees, including 350,000 Sudanese, 90,000 from Central African Republic and some 13,000 Nigerians.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In N'djamena, Bernardo Dos Santos on mobile +235 6800 0698/Pama +235 9001 2121
  • In Geneva, Leo Dobbs on mobile +41 79 883 6347