UNHCR seeks US$6.2 million to help internally displaced in east Chad
GENEVA, February 27 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Tuesday issued a US$6.2 million supplementary appeal to fund protection and assistance programmes for tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in eastern Chad.
The latest appeal is in addition to this year's UNHCR budget of US$69.3 million for some 220,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region in 12 camps in eastern Chad, and another 46,000 from the Central African Republic (CAR) in the south of the country.
Struggling to cope with the refugees from Darfur and CAR, Chad is now faced with the internal displacement of up to 120,000 of its own citizens amid spreading regional insecurity. The displacement began in late 2005 and worsened last year with a series of inter-ethnic attacks, exacerbated by competition for scarce water, grazing land and other resources - mostly in the south-east of Chad.
"The new appeal includes a planning figure of up to 150,000 internally displaced by the end of 2007. It will cover a variety of protection and assistance needs for internally displaced Chadians under an approach modelled on the UN 'cluster' system in coordination with the UN country team," UNHCR spokeswoman, Jennifer Pagonis, told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday.
"It will include the transfer of up to 20,000 IDPs from makeshift spontaneous settlements to more organised sites. It will also cover regular UNHCR missions to IDP settlements; assistance to victims of gender-based violence; family tracing; profiling of displaced populations; monitoring of returns to some 150 villages; provision of emergency shelter and other non-food relief materials; and construction of site infrastructure," she added.
The 11-page supplementary appeal document acknowledges the difficulties of carrying out humanitarian work amid the growing insecurity in much of eastern Chad.
"Due to the security situation, agencies are operating in very difficult conditions which have limited their access to IDPs," the appeal says, noting that many agencies have had to relocate staff several times. "In addition, the rainy season [from May to October] renders travel in the region difficult as many roads are impassable."
In a February 23 report to the United Nations Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed sending a UN peace-keeping mission to Chad to protect civilians and deter cross-border attacks. The mission would have a multi-dimensional mandate ranging from ensuring the security of civilians and maintaining law and order in refugee camps and towns housing humanitarian field offices to facilitating free movement of aid and border monitoring.
Few humanitarian agencies have staff or offices in areas of displacement. In addition, most IDPs are scattered in villages rather than in organised sites. Local authorities only have limited resources and little capacity to deal with the enormous needs of displaced populations.
The appeal notes that the attacks in eastern Chad mirror the pattern of violence in Sudan's Darfur region, with armed, mainly Arab men on horseback and camels attacking and burning settlements, destroying crops, stealing cattle and killing many villagers. The attacks allegedly involve mostly Chadian groups, with some degree of cooperation from Sudan's janjaweed militia.
The appeal says inter-communal fighting intensified last year. Between February and April 2006, several Chadian villages near the border with Sudan were attacked. Villagers moved to what they thought would be safer areas, but were then attacked again, and again displaced. Despite efforts by Chadian authorities, the attacks continue.
Last November, a series of raids on some 50 villages left more than 250 people dead, hundreds wounded, at least 30 villages destroyed and 25,000 newly displaced. In December, another wave of attacks on villages in the Koukou-Angarana area left 30 people dead.
Currently, there are at least 25 settlements of IDPs in south-eastern Chad. But the appeal notes that the real extent of the displacement is difficult to assess.
To date, UNHCR has received US$14 million, including US$8 million from the United States, for its 2007 annual programme in Chad.