The United Nations World Food Programme made an urgent appeal today for US$81 million in new donations to mount another major food assistance and logistics project aimed at feeding more than 230,000 refugees and 150,000 internally displaced people in eastern Chad.
To reach its targets, WFP needs to have in motion by next month at the latest operations to buy and ship 79,000 metric tons of food to eastern Chad, which entails mobilizing ocean-going transport as well as a fleet of 8,000 trucks to travel overland, either from Douala Port in Cameroon or along the 1,800-kilometer Libyan corridor across the Sahara desert.
Race against the clock
“Given the long lead time for deliveries to Chad, we need to have this operation rolling by October,” said Felix Bamezon, WFP Country Director in Chad.
“And as soon as the food arrives here, WFP will be in a real race against the clock to deliver before the rains start in June. That might seem a long way off now, but from June 2008 onwards, roads will become impassable and will be officially closed.”
Bamezon noted that pre-positioning for this year’s rainy season, currently underway, had been completed successfully, with sufficient food stocks to cover refugee and IDP needs until November.
But he added that the increased demands of the operation for the 2008 rainy season required new contributions to be confirmed by October to ensure that food is pre-positioned in eastern Chad before the onset of the rains next year.
“Donors need to act now to avoid the risk of any delay in providing food for hundreds of thousands of people who entirely depend on WFP for their daily survival,” he said.
The US$81 million needed would cover the costs of feeding the 380,000 refugees and displaced during 2008. The total cost of WFP’s entire emergency operation in Chad for the two years running from January 2007 to December 2008 is US$186.3 million.
WFP supplies monthly food rations to Sudanese refugees who have fled the conflict in neighbouring Darfur as well as native Chadians internally displaced by the troubles. The agency has also implemented programmes to help local host populations, under pressure from the influx of refugees and IDPs, meet their food needs.
Security and the current rainy season combine to confront humanitarian agencies in Chad with a particularly challenging environment at the moment. Access is vital if relief organizations are to help those in need in a timely manner.
The UN’s Humanitarian Air Service, run by WFP, provides a vital air link for over 60 UN agencies and NGOs, and needs continuous support to increase capacity, flights and access to new IDP sites.