UN agencies solicit $142m support for refugees in Chad

UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday solicited support for hundreds of thousands of hunger-stricken refugees and internally displaced people in Chad.

Speaking from Ndjamena, Mr Pierre Honnorat, Director of WFP in Chad, said it urgently needed additional funding of 142.7 million dollars in the coming six months.

He said a dire lack of humanitarian funding had left refugees in the country hunger-stricken.

He noted that as Chad moved into the lean season in-between harvests, food assistance could grind to a complete halt.

“Chad is surrounded by countries with crises and hosting some 600,000 refugees from Sudan, Niger, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

“It’s one of the biggest caseloads in Africa and the number kept rising with the recent conflicts in communities in Sudan,’’ Honnorat said.

He said also that an additional 300,000 people in need of aid were internally-displaced Chadians.

After fleeing conflicts and violence, refugees, internally-displaced persons and their host communities face growing food insecurity and malnutrition, high food prices and the destructive effects of climate change.

In the second half of 2022, Chad saw the most devastating floods in 30 years.

Honnorat said 90 per cent of refugees in Chad did not receive adequate food assistance in 2022 when rations had to be cut in half.

He warned that 2023 would be another very difficult year, since there had been absolutely no funding from May onwards for the refugees and the displaced people.

WFP already reduced its support in April and will only be able to serve just 270,000 refugees this month.

Honnorat called on donors to help Chad in its efforts to host so many refugees with so many crises at the same time, while emphasising the upcoming very difficult lean season.

WFP projects that nearly 1.9 million people will be in severe food insecurity from June to August 2023, while more than 1.3 million children will suffer from acute malnutrition.

According to the UN agency, other disastrous impacts of the crisis could include a rise in child labour, under-aged marriage and recruitment into armed groups.

Speaking about longer-term solutions to the crisis, including development interventions, Honnorat highlighted a new project which WFP was running together with UNHCR and the Chadian agriculture ministry.

He said the new project aimed at promoting empowerment and self-reliance among the displaced by enabling them to become farmers and live off the land.

“We have just rehabilitated 1,600 hectares of land, which have already produced 2,900 tonnes of food,’’ he said.

He emphasised that the return on investment of the operation is “fantastic’’ and that most importantly, 16 villages now no longer require assistance.

Honnorat went on to underscore that in his 33 years at WFP, he had rarely seen development projects as “solid’’ as in Chad.

He commended the Chadian government on its efforts in favour of refugees, including its on-going work on a new asylum law, which should be finalised soon.

Echoing the call for urgent action, Mr Matthew Saltmarsh of the UNHCR, also appealed to the international community to help tackle the Chadian crisis.

“For our part of the appeal, we are looking to raise 172.5 million dollars to provide protection and relief assistance to the one million forcibly displaced people and their hosts,’’ he said.

Saltmarsh added that the UNHCR’s appeal was, for now, only 15 per cent funded. (NAN)

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Written by Tom Chiahemen

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