A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in eastern Chad where hundreds of thousands of traumatised Sudanese people are in need of essential support after fleeing conflict, Concern Worldwide has warned.
The organisation is deeply alarmed by the worsening situation at the border where mostly women and children are arriving with stories of atrocities. They now urgently need shelter, food and security.
Almost 2.8 million people have fled Sudan since conflict began there on April 15, including an estimated 230,000 people who arrived in Chad. In addition, more than two million people have been displaced inside Sudan.
“Women, children and men say they have been shot at while trying to flee and that many have not made it,” said Concern’s Chad Country Director Audrey Hernandez, whose team of aid workers are operating in difficult conditions.
“One woman told me she saw her husband shot dead as their home was attacked.
“They have witnessed atrocious scenes and find themselves without enough equipment to meet their needs. We are deeply worried about their health and the possible spread of diseases. Most arrive into Chad with nothing.
“Our staff have heard the fighting in Sudan at some of the locations where we work along the border.
“The rainy season has also begun, which means there could be flooding in just a few weeks which will make it hard for us to reach the displaced population. Those displaced people are currently being moved to new or existing refugee camps about 30km further inland.
“Most of the people are living in makeshift tents made from sticks and any material they can find, which means they not protected from the heavy rains.
“The situation is catastrophic. We are doing everything we can with other organisations, but the overall aid response is underfunded.”
Concern, with donations from the Irish public and the government through Irish Aid, is responding in the transit sites on the border and also in refugee camps inland where refugees are being relocated to.
The Irish organisation’s aid workers have distributed hundreds of “non-food item” and “dignity” kits that contain basic items such as blankets, pots, mosquito nets and sanitary towels.
They are also running a mobile health clinic in one of the temporary sites along the border where staff are screening children for malnutrition and other illnesses and providing vaccinations, a pharmacy and midwife services.
The mobile health clinic has so far treated 340 children for severe or moderate acute malnutrition, which can be life threatening.
Concern’s Chad team are working closely with other partners and donors to secure more funding and widen the coverage of their response.
The organisation is urging all major donors worldwide to increase funding and support to tackle the growing humanitarian situation.
The UNHCR, which is coordinating the humanitarian response in Chad, reports that it has so far relocated 53,889 refugees to safer camps inland.