28 February 2014

While in the Central African Republic, Nouhou Bouba owned more than 300 heads of cattle. He and his family were attacked by anti-balaka who stole all his possession. 
Photo: Natacha Buhler

Johannesburg/N’Djamena - After an exhausting trip on convoys, most of which came under attack in the CAR, the refugees are now in Sido, southern Chad, experiencing extremely precarious sanitary and living conditions. They have received only one food distribution from the World Food Programme (WFP),  which took place on January 20 – more than five weeks ago. “More than 8,000 refugees have arrived since that time,” says Augustin Ngoyi, MSF program coordinator in Sido. “They have not gotten anything to eat, apart from the few protein biscuits that some of them received.”

Most of the refugees in Sido are living in makeshift shelters, with the newest arrivals camped out under the trees, protected only by their clothes. There are just 20 latrines and four water points for the 13,200 refugees there now. Malaria represents nearly 30% of the diseases treated at the MSF health center. MSF treated 56 children with acute severe malnutrition over a 16-day period.

Local authorities on site are struggling to deal with this crisis, but face a desperate lack of resources and support. MSF is the only international organization working in Sido.

“The refugees need emergency food aid, as well as mosquito nets, shelters and latrines,” Ngoyi says. “The U.N. agencies, including the WFP, and the Chadian authorities must act right away.

In late December 2013, the Chadian government launched a massive evacuation of people who were exposed to violence in the CAR, bringing them out of the country by plane and convoys escorted by its army. The central government went to great lengths to identify the evacuees’ home towns and villages.  However, many have only Central African identity papers and no longer have any family ties to Chad, or relatives who can help them.

“The evacuation carried out by the Chadian government saved many lives,” Chateau says. “Everyone who reached Chad – regardless of the form of transport or ability to present identification – exercised their fundamental right to flee the violence and abuses in the CAR. All these people, most of whom are from the CAR, are doubly vulnerable. They must be aided immediately on Chadian territory.” 

In Cameroon where other MSF teams are present, CAR refugees are also in a situation of distress.(Link to be made to the Cameroon PR)

Find out more about MSF in southern Chad.

In mid-February, MSF opened a health center in Sido, Chad and will set up a hospitalization unit with a therapeutic feeding center. In Bitoye, MSF teams see approximately 100 patients per week and have vaccinated nearly 7,000 people, refugees and residents, against measles, meningitis and polio.  In N’Djamena, where several thousand refugees are still gathered, MSF mobile teams provide medical care at several transit sites. In addition to responding to these emergency needs, MSF operates regular projects in Abéché, Am Timan, Massakory, Moissala and Tissi.