Six months after the start of mass population movements between the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad, the situation in transit sites in southern Chad remains critical. With the arrival of the rainy season and deteriorating living conditions, returnees need humanitarian assistance now more than ever.
Sido, South of Chad – Over a year ago, Hadjara Abakar was living with her family in CAR. Her husband was a Peul livestock farmer with a herd of more than 100 cattle. Today, she lives in Chad, the country of her parents and grandparents but one completely unfamiliar to her.
Hadjara, 30 years old, arrived in Chad after violence broke out in CAR between anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka armed groups. She explains how armed men attacked her village.
During the clashes, her neighbor and one of her cousins were killed by anti-balaka militia. She and her family took refuge in a mosque to escape the assailants. “Twelve Peul children who were looking after the herd were kidnapped and executed. We were taken 12 kilometres from Bangui before being brought to Chad by vehicles sent by the Chadian president Idriss Deby,” explains Hadjara. “But the conditions during the trip were difficult.” She still has no news of her husband.
Hadjara was temporarily placed with her family at the transit centre in Sido. She and her children received emergency assistance, including food, emergency shelter, hygiene and sanitation, water, and healthcare. The arrival of the rainy season in the South will likely complicate the situation of returnees from CAR. Tents—made available by humanitarian organizations—will not be able to withstand the bad weather.
In Sido, Hadjara was allotted a site, and she quickly received a tent to house her four children. “I take care of many things for my children, since my husband and parents are not with me. I ask myself every day how I’m going to feed, shelter and dress them,” she says, sitting in front of her tent as she cooks for her family.
WFP provides food assistance to people affected by the crisis in CAR through a voucher programme, which families have appreciated. “I prefer vouchers over food distributions; we are able to choose what we want to eat,” explains Hadjara. WFP and its partners distribute a coupon valued at USD 8 each month for every person in the household, which allows them to go to local merchants and choose their own food.
During the month of May, WFP distributed coupons to assist more than 31,000 people. However, out of a total budget of USD 14.8 million, WFP still needs USD 6.8 million to meet the needs of returnees.
Since Hadjara Abakar arrived in Chad in December 2013, new waves of violence in CAR have created a large-scale humanitarian crisis, forcing the departure of over 300,000 people towards neighboring countries, including Chad and Cameroon. In total, 101,000 Chadian migrants, Central African refugees and third-country nationals have been registered at entry points in southern Chad and close to N’Djamena. This influx adds to the 425,000 refugees already in camps in eastern and southern Chad.