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UNHCR urges support to address urgent needs of Sudanese refugees at Chad border

Briefing notes

UNHCR urges support to address urgent needs of Sudanese refugees at Chad border

25 June 2024
Chad. Sudanese refugees

Sudanese refugees wait in line to receive food in Adre, near Chad's border with Sudan.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for urgent international support as the humanitarian crisis in eastern Chad reaches a critical point. With increasing numbers of Sudanese refugees in border areas, rising health concerns, escalating security incidents and the impending rainy season, immediate action is needed.

Since April 2023, the conflict in Sudan has forced over 600,000 refugees and 180,000 Chadian returnees, the vast majority of them women and children, to flee into Chad, with more than 115,000 arriving since the start of 2024. This influx shows no signs of abating, with an average of 630 people crossing the Adre border each day over the last month. They are fleeing for their lives from a devastating war   that is driving famine-like conditions in Sudan.

UNHCR and partners have extended existing refugee settlements and established six new ones, as well as building two villages for Chadian returnees. All these sites are equipped with essential services and infrastructure, including family shelters, mobile clinics, water points, sanitation and education facilities known as temporary learning spaces. However, these efforts are not enough to meet the overwhelming needs.

Equally urgent, today one-third of the new arrivals remain in dire conditions at spontaneous sites along the border, with the town of Adre, originally home to 40,000 people, struggling to accommodate a sixfold increase in its population.

Overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in Adre have led to a severe health crisis, with over 1,200 cases of Hepatitis E reported, including three fatalities. The impending rainy season, expected between June and September, threatens to exacerbate this crisis, potentially leading to outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera and impeding humanitarian access. 

Security is also a growing concern, with increasing incidents of looting, vandalization of humanitarian structures and trafficking of drugs and alcohol. Tragically, a refugee girl was recently killed by a stray bullet. A series of fires set by disgruntled host community members destroyed 235 family shelters in sites hosting Chadian migrant returnees, displacing 1,500 families back to Adre.

The complex emergency in Chad is compounded by intensified fighting in the Darfur region of Sudan. Despite the tireless efforts of UN agencies and partners to support the Government’s emergency response, the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

The potential for further displacement remains high as fighting continues in El Fasher town and rural localities around it in North Darfur. There are also reports of widespread looting and burning of villages as well as a looming famine in Sudan that is expected to drive even more refugees into Chad.

A recent joint monitoring mission by a governmental partner and UNHCR at the Tine border entry point in Wadi Fira confirmed 300 new arrivals in recent weeks, with refugees reporting harrowing journeys of up to 15 days to evade militias in Sudan. UNHCR reiterates its call on all parties to allow civilians wishing to move within and out of El Fasher to safer areas to do so.

In this context, the Government of Chad has urgently requested UNHCR and partners to accelerate the relocation of new arrivals away from border areas, particularly from Adre. UNHCR has responded by opening a new site to accommodate up to 50,000 people, but more is needed.

UNHCR’s 2024 appeal for the response in eastern Chad is underfunded with just 10 per cent of the requested $214.8 million received so far. The clock is ticking. To cover immediate needs, UNHCR urgently requires $80 million to build three additional sites with essential services and infrastructure to relocate an additional 150,000 expected new arrivals away from the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions and provide them with lifesaving assistance including shelter, food, clean water, access to health and education.

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