Refugees and related humanitarian action
UNHCR activities for Sudanese refugees
- In eastern Chad, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the request of and in cooperation with the Chadian Government, assists nearly 250,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region, hosted in twelve refugee camps. The United Nations refugee agency established its presence in eastern Chad in 2003, and operates today a head office in N'Djamena, a sub-office in Abéché, and six field offices in Bahaï, Farchana, Goz Beïda, Guereda, Iriba, Koukou, as well as one antenna office in Amleyouna, employing a total of approximately 50 international and 200 national staff. The agency has agreements with 40 implementing partners for its refugee and IDP programmes.
- The response programme of UNHCR for refugees is based on the principle of ensuring their safety and dignity, thereby comprising four main pillars: protection; socio-economic well-being; self-reliance through income generation and development of skills; and promotion of community-based approaches for coexistence with the host communities.
- Given the extremely volatile security situation in the east, which already led to the temporary relocation of staff on several occasions, the Sudanese refugee programme is carried out under very difficult conditions. Severe logistical constraints add to the agency's challenges.
- The latest major refugee inflow occurred during the month of February 2008, when several areas of West Darfur were heavily affected by armed conflict. Over 13,000 individuals fled to Chad's eastern village of Birak and its surrounding areas, approximately 60 km east of the town of Guereda.
- During March, UNHCR has transferred 5,357 of these newly arrived refugees from Birak to the Kounoungou refugee camp, and approximately 200 of them to the Mile refugee camp. Upon arrival, refugees had been provided with shelter and non-food items (NFIs), including mats, blankets, jerry cans, kitchen sets, anti-mosquito nets, and personal hygiene items. Both refugee camps were equipped with additional water and sanitation facilities to accommodate the new arrivals. Since their arrival in the camps, refugees have had access to all the assistance and protection programmes implemented by UNHCR's partners.
- Those refugees who chose to stay near the border continue receiving protection and assistance, and will be re-offered relocation to the Mile refugee camp after the rainy season. Protection monitoring missions also aim to follow up on special needs for vulnerable individuals, including separated children.
- Meanwhile, the newly arrived refugees as well as the local population in Birak profit from community-based projects, including newly installed water points. Such projects also assist Chadian communities, who received the refugees generously, and shared with them whatever scarce resources they had.
Specific protection programmes
- Through active collaboration with local and national authorities (including traditional authorities), host communities, and the refugees themselves, UNHCR and its partners are regularly carrying out capacity building for the Chadian judiciary, with a view to enhancing rule of law, traditional and modern justice systems, and helping build strong foundations for protection activities that can be delivered by national authorities. Mobile legal clinics have been established in refugee camps in order to promote human rights, and to provide legal advice and support.
- Awareness sessions on how to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), as well as awareness campaigns on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, are conducted by UNHCR together with national authorities, and refugee committees comprising sheiks, women, youth, teachers/parents associations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
- Child protection activities, being central to UNHCR's work, aim to safeguard refugee children from harm. They include awareness and training sessions to raise awareness on ethnically sensitive issues, including domestic violence against children, child labour, early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM), and recruitment of children. Psycho-social support for traumatised and disabled children is being provided in some refugee camps through UNHCR's implementing partners.
- In order to improve the status of women, UNHCR has established several community centres in each refugee camp, in order to encourage women groups towards empowerment, carry out literacy programmes and skills development, and provide them with protected spaces where they can carry out activities of their choice.
- All refugee protection programmes are based on the agency's guidelines on Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming (AGDM).
Access to health care
- All refugees have access to primary health care within the camps. Mortality is within normal levels, and disease control has significantly improved.
- The UNHCR has established pre-school nurseries (for children aged three to five years) in all of eastern Chad's refugee camps, with an average attendance rate of 92% for boys and 83% for girls.
- A total of 80 camp-based primary schools are operational in the refugee camps. An average of 80% of boys and 39% of girls are enrolled.
- The UNHCR is providing monetary incentives to 985 voluntary refugee teachers, and providing them with school materials. On average, one teacher is looking after over 60 children per class.
- Due to funding shortages, secondary education is offered in only three refugee camps. In October 2008, several pilot projects including distance learning are due to also start in this domain.
- Literacy programmes for adults are offered in all twelve refugee camps.
- The mainly arid lands of eastern Chad pose significant environmental challenges for the refugee programme, as firewood and water are extremely scarce. Together with local authorities, UNHCR can provide only limited collection of dead wood in approved sites, and has engaged local contractors to collect and supply it to the camps.
- Energy-efficient 'Save80' cookers as well as Solar cookers have been distributed to one third of all refugee households, thereby reducing the use of firewood.
- A total of 470,000 saplings (for fruit and shade trees) have been planted during the past 1.5 years, and reforestation projects around refugee camps are ongoing.
Water and Sanitation programmes
- Refugees are being encouraged to construct their own family latrines, in order to improve the average ratio of 30 persons per latrine in the camps.
- An average of 12 litres of water per person per day is distributed to the refugee community.
- In 2008, one of UNHCR's priorities is to fine-tune and improve existing water programmes and to find new solutions for water supply on the longer term.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.