In less than two years, more than 2.5 million people have been made homeless by continued attacks by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) group, also known as Boko Haram. People are also fleeing reprisal acts and offensives carried out by the regional military forces.
Families and individuals have sought refuge across borders or inside their own countries. Today, an estimated 66,000 people are displaced in Chad after having been forced to flee. They live in extremely vulnerable conditions, often without shelter and livelihood.
The already scarce health facilities in this neglected area have been weakened by several months of displacement, and high insecurity has had a huge impact on the access to life-saving healthcare for thousands of people. Medical staff has fled and health facilities lack essential drugs and equipment.
MSF is scaling up its medical and humanitarian response in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger to provide assistance to victims of the Lake Chad regional crisis.
In Chad, MSF has teams based in Baga Sola and Bol, from where they run several mobile clinics providing basic healthcare to the displaced and resident populations. Between March and October 2015, teams carried out more than 24,000 consultations. The main conditions being treated in the mobile clinics are malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections, linked to the poor living conditions.
Alima Kori, 17, just gave birth to her first child, Abakar Hadissa, who is now 19 days old. She comes to the center for her postnatal visit.
Many patients attending the clinics display symptoms of depression and anxiety, linked to the traumatic events and the living conditions and ongoing insecurity they face. In October 2015, a series of suicide attacks resulted in 43 dead and some 50 injured in Baga Sola and in the Kousseri displaced person’s camp.
MSF is also providing mental healthcare to refugees. People are living under sheer terror: attacks occur at markets, places of worship and schools causing widespread fear and displacement, explains MSF psychologist Hangu Djangrang, working in the Koulkime primary health center.
In the four countries bordering Lake Chad, MSF teams work in collaboration with the Ministries of Health to deliver life-saving services such as primary healthcare, paediatric and nutritional support, psychological assistance, surgical care, and treatment for wounded and victims of violence.
Since the beginning of activities in the Lake Chad area in Chad, MSF has also distributed 2,230 kits containing essential relief items such as plastic sheeting, blankets and mosquito nets, as well as 1,650 kits which enable people to treat water for safe use in their homes.