WFP has said that thousands of Chadians are running out of food in the eastern border region with Sudan and face a desperate struggle to survive unless new donations meet the needs of a rising tide of people driven from their homes.
These people were forced to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs
WFP Chad Country Director Felix Bamezon
WFP had planned to feed 50,000 displaced Chadians, but it now estimates that an additional 80,000 displaced people are in urgent need of assistance in the East.
The additional requirement for the next six months is 7,500 metric tons of food at a cost of US$7.5 million.
“These people were forced to leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said WFP Chad Country Director Felix Bamezon.
“They are completely dependent on host communities who can barely feed themselves, and their living conditions are going from bad to worse,” he said.
Continuing conflict and instability in the region bordering on Darfur in western Sudan has caused tens of thousands of rural Chadians to flee their homes over the past several months.
A recent WFP-led assessment found nearly 130,000 displaced people living in makeshift shelters on the outskirts of villages – almost three times the number expected.
Nearly half of these families were found to be severely food insecure and in immediate need of assistance.
WFP is racing against time to pre-position as much food as possible before the rainy season, which is expected to start in late June, making most roads in eastern Chad impassable.
The vast majority of displaced live in flimsy shelters patched together from straw or millet stalks, which will not survive the seasonal rains. One in five families does not even have a roof.
Few have access to potable water or latrines, and local health services are unable to handle the unexpected flood of new patients.
Nor are the new arrivals the only ones suffering. With so many new mouths to feed, local host communities are being forced to kill off their livestock, and WFP fears that soon seed stores will start to be consumed as hunger and rising cereal prices take their toll.
“This is not a sustainable situation,” said Bamezon. “Life in eastern Chad has always been precarious, but now tens of thousands of Chadians are being pushed to the breaking point. There is simply not enough food to go around.”
More than 2,000 Chadian refugees and Sudanese returnees crossed the Sudanese border from Chad into West Darfur in December 2006 and January 2007, highlighting how the crisis in Darfur since 2003 is now displacing people from Chad -- as well as in the northwest of the Central African Republic.
WFP in Chad responds to the immediate needs of many displaced Chadians and host communities through general food distributions and supplying agricultural tools.
Seed protection and food-for-work projects are also planned to help bolster the livelihoods of the poorest towns and villages in the region.
WFP feeds 225,000 Sudanese refugees in 12 camps in eastern Chad, and more than 45,000 Central African refugees in four camps in the south.
This most recent displacement is part of a cycle of violence that has grown to encompass Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic.
Before the latest increase in the numbers of displaced needing food, WFP’s US$85 million Emergency Operation to assist Sudanese refugees, internally displaced people, host communities and refugee-affected local people in eastern Chad from January 2007 until June 2008 had received US$39 million, leaving a shortfall of US$46 million or 54 percent.