Tens of thousands of people fleeing violence in CAR have crossed the border into Chad, and more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months. (Copyright:WFP/Chad)
More than 40,000 people have already crossed the border into Chad, fleeing conflict and violence in Central African Republic (CAR). While most are Chadian, many returnees have been living outside the country for years and no longer benefit from a strong support network. WFP is working quickly to respond to the situation and has already started distributing food at transit centres along the CAR-Chad border.
N’Djamena – Tens of thousands of people fleeing violence in CAR have crossed the border into Chad, and more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months. Many have returned with assistance from the Chadian government, who started repatriating its citizens in December as the conflict escalated in CAR.
An estimated 41,000 people have already arrived in Chad since 24 December, and many more cross the border every day. More than 8 out of 10 returnees are women and children. Transit centres have opened to host these returnees while they wait to be transported back to their villages of origin throughout Chad.
After having spent many years outside the country, many refugees returning to Chad no longer have a support network in the country.
On 3 January 2014, the Chadian Government launched an official appeal to the humanitarian and international community to assist these returnees.
On 21 January, WFP began distributing food rations to more than 20,000 people at transit centres along the border. Returnees receive enough food for seven days, including cereals, pulses, oil and fortified flour. More than 65 mt of food will be distributed in the upcoming days to 23,000 people.
WFP has also started to distribute high-energy biscuits, which are useful during the first days of an emergency when cooking facilities are scarce. These biscuits, which were airlifted into Chad and are currently being trucked to transit sites, are easily distributed and provide a quick way to improve nutrition levels.
WFP is currently conducting market assessments to determine the feasibility of voucher transfers. When markets are functional, as they are in southern Chad, cash and voucher modalities offer an efficient, quick and inexpensive way to get food to those that need it.
WFP Chad is already assisting some 70,000 Central Africans in the southern region. These refugees have been in Chad since 2003 and receive assistance in the form of monthly food distributions.
The number of returnees increases every day and may reach as many as 150,000 people, all of whom will require assistance for a period of six months. The lean season, which is expected to start earlier and last longer than usual, may aggravate the situation in food-insecure regions.
WFP Chad’s Country Director Lauren Landis recently visited the transit centres in Southern Chad. “We need the entire humanitarian community—UN agencies, NGOs and donors—to work together to assist these people,” she said. “Without immediate assistance, the situation could quickly deteriorate, leading to alarming malnutrition rates.”
To provide adequate and timely assistance to these people, WFP Chad requires US$ 16.5 million over the next six months.