CHAD: UN HUMANITARIAN CHIEF CALLS FOR BETTER BASIC SERVICES FOR IDP RETURNEES
In Goz Beida Mr. Holmes met with the Governor, Mr. Valentin Monhassingar. He noted the effective collaboration of the humanitarian community with the local authorities. He also expressed his concern about security and protection of civilians, particularly in the light of the likely withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission over the coming months, and about the need to increase access to basic services for those internally displaced people (IDPs) trying to return to their homes. The Governor agreed, while highlighting the need for resources for effective measures to ensure security and the protection of civilians, and for measures to help the local community as well as the refugees and IDPs.
The ERC visited the Gourounkoun IDP camp, 7 kilometres north of Goz Beida, where he met representatives of the displaced, including families and school children. The site hosts around 17,000 Chadians from 26 villages near the border with Sudan about 180 kilometres from Goz Beida.
"Most of the IDPs clearly want to return home as soon as possible. However, they are waiting to be sure that security conditions are favorable and that basic services such as schools and health clinics are available," said Mr. Holmes. "Many fear that those who attacked their villages in 2006 are still around."
The ERC continued with a visit to the village of Marena, home to about 6,000 IDPs who have returned over the last 18 months. In discussions with returned IDPs, both women and men, they expressed their concerns about restarting their agricultural livelihoods, and about lack of basic services, including sufficient supplies of potable water.
Schools lack teachers and basic equipment; there are only two classrooms in the village with an average of 150 children per class. There is a small health centre but with minimal staff and equipment.
"We need to do a lot more, with the Government, to create the conditions for sustainable returns of the displaced. They need acceptable living conditions, as well as security, if we are to see the large scale returns everyone wants to see." said Mr. Holmes.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in the Sila region, where return and local reconciliation processes have been under way over the last two years, durable solutions for some of the displaced are increasingly feasible. But early recovery activities need to be funded in order to facilitate access to essential services.
Internally displaced persons in Chad are estimated at 171,000, of whom 90 per cent come from the Dar Sila region, while the total number of returnees so far is estimated at 35,000 people.
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