(N'djamena, 11 June 2019): Stephen Tull, the Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations Resident Coordinator in Chad, condemns the latest violence and calls for enhanced humanitarian and development support for the Lac province, in a context of new population displacements. He declared: “I strongly condemn the recent attacks targeting both security posts and civilian populations as well as the surge in human rights violations. I call for the full respect of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the protection of civilian populations. In this respect, the current situation requires extra efforts by the Chadian government, the United Nations and our NGO partners to ensure the safety and well-being of affected populations. The United Nations will maintain our strong presence in the Lac province and support the efforts to meet the assistance and the protection needs of the vulnerable people.” The Humanitarian Coordinator in Chad, together with senior agency representatives, completed a two-day mission to the Lac province of Chad on 6 and 7 June 2019, to assess the security and humanitarian situation and open access to newly displaced communities. The mission met with local authorities and humanitarian organizations on the ground and visited several sites where they exchanged with families who fled recent violence and have found refuge, including in Maar, Yakoua and Kaya. Mr. Tull was particularly struck by the basic unmet needs and difficult living conditions of the newly displaced. “Despite the immense generosity shown by host communities, we need to step up our assistance. Some of the newly displaced have been forcibly displaced several times since 2015, and many, including young children are sleeping outside without any basic shelter.” This was brought starkly home as a storm, with heavy rain, began during the mission’s last site visit to Kaya near Bol.
The latest upsurge in armed attacks and insecurity across the Lake Chad Basin has driven thousands of civilians to seek refuge in Chad’s western Lac province where renewed violence also disrupts livelihoods and takes a heavy toll on local communities, particularly around Ngouboua, Tchoukoutalia and island areas on the border with Nigeria. Since the beginning of the year, close to 40,000 people have reportedly been displaced in the province - including the arrival of refugees from Nigeria, returnees from Niger and the new displacement of previously displaced Chadians seeking security and assistance.
Belinda Holdsworth, Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Chad, also warned of a worsening crisis: “in areas where previously displaced communities had been returning to, people have had to flee again, due to recent attacks or fear of ensuing clashes, in a context where security measures to guarantee the protection of civilians are deemed insufficient.” Despite challenges in accessing affected populations in certain areas, particularly in remote islands along the Nigerian border, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners continue to operate in the Lac province to the best of their capacity and are doing everything possible to provide safety, shelter, food, water, and medical care to displaced communities.
Mr. Tull commends the Government of Chad for advancing toward a comprehensive security and development plan for the Lac province, emphasizing that “safety and security constitute a crucial precondition alongside the provision of basic social services for the success of durable solutions and the return of populations to their areas of origin”. In order to support these durable solutions, Stephen Tull reiterated the international community’s will to “stand alongside the government of Chad to provide immediate assistance to affected communities as well as address underlying chronic vulnerabilities, in line with the national development plan.” Increased donor funding is critical to save lives through sustaining and expanding the current humanitarian operations. The current response is insufficient compared to the significance and geographic scale of needs. In 2019, humanitarian partners in Chad need US $ 140 million to save and improve the lives of the 340,000 most vulnerable people in the Lac province, including over 133,000 IDPs, host communities, returnees, and refugees whose population stands at around 15,000. At mid-year, less than 20 per cent of these funds have been received.
In addition, aid agencies have already used much of Chad’s limited contingency stock to respond to the needs of newly-displaced people.