Humanitarian Crisis: Threatens Thousands Displaced in Chad

In Southeastern Chad, recurring violence, attacks and fighting have forced nearly 120,000 people to be displaced and seek refuge close to towns and villages that have been spared by the violence. People are living in terrible conditions and international assistance only reaches them sporadically mainly due to the insecurity. Action Against Hunger would like to draw attention to the plight of people living in the Dar Sila area to prevent a humanitarian crisis of a major scale.

Conflict and violence spill-over

For over a year, tension and fighting between Chadian rebels and the army, as well as incursions from neighbouring Darfur, have led to increasing violence against civilians. In addition, ancestral tensions between pastoral and agro-pastoral populations persist. Nearly 120,000 people have been displaced and driven out from their villages which have often been looted and burnt down. These people have lost everything including food stocks and their livestock. Some people have been displaced for nearly a year. Since the end of the rainy season in September, a new wave of violence has ravaged the region. The violence which has included the destruction of harvests, looting of cattle and the eviction of people from their homes is dramatically similar to what has been happening in neighbouring Darfur for the past 4 years. Thus, the Darfur conflict has spilled over into Eastern Chad.

High vulnerability among displaced people

The results of Action Against Hunger’s recent food security assessment in the Dogdore area, where 20,000 people are living, give rise to great concern. Caroline Broudic, a Food Security Expert, describes the situation: “Displaced people in the Dogdore area have often lost all or most of their agricultural produce as well as their assets including livestock. They can not work in their fields and are unable to move for fear of new attacks. They have very few alternative means of survival.” Displaced people already have to survive on one meal per day. “The nutritional situation is not yet drastic although some cases of malnutrition have been confirmed. However, the slightest incident could lead to a nutritional crisis as there is limited access to food, water and hygiene,” she continues.

Water, food, wood and hay: insufficient resources

Access to cultivable land, in the villages where people have fled to, is difficult. There is not enough fertile land to cope with such an influx of people. Moreover, land is often too expensive to rent for people who have lost everything. In the current dry season, the main activity of displaced people is collecting and selling wood and hay. However, resources are starting to diminish, with displaced people and residents from the area competing over remaining resources. This high pressure on resources has led to changes in prices (ie for access to land, wood and hay) affecting both displaced people and residents.

Ongoing insecurity

Today, easy recourse to agricultural activities or the collection of wood and hay are perilous due to risk of violent behaviour towards men but also for women coming back from the fields. Livestock is regularly looted and women working in the fields are subject to aggressions. This insecurity is having a very strong impact on the living conditions of both displaced people and residents, even in camps.

Since February, Action Against Hunger has been distributing kits with basic necessities including tarpaulins, jerry cans and blankets in Dogdore. The team will also carry out activities to improve access to water and will organise food distributions for 4 months, depending on security conditions.