"Every night, before sleeping, I wonder if we will survive until the following day and every morning when I wake up, I thank God that we are still alive," says Hawa, 32, a Cameroonian refugee in Chad.
"I am haunted by one and only one idea, every day I am afraid of not being able to bring back enough to eat for my family," notes Nadjigar, 30 years old, mother of two young children, and whose husband was reported missing.
Hawa and Nadjiar are both Cameroonians and have found refuge for several months in Chad fleeing the events that have affected their villages in the far north of their country.
Last September and December, Chad experienced two flows of refugees fleeing Cameroon. They are more than 100,000 today living in poverty in spontaneous sites and in organized camps around the Chadian capital Ndjamena. No one has enough to eat and many are content with one meal a day, mostly porridge.
In these sites populated mostly by women and children, many adults go for more than 24 hours without eating, sparing the little food for the children. The straw shelters quickly built in September and December with the two waves of refugees lack everything, including mats to lay on the floor and pots for cooking.
"The Cameroonian refugee crisis is a latent crisis that is likely to last because the conflict continues and the displaced populations do not think of returning to their homes," says Huguette Sekpe, Assistant to the Country Director of CARE International in Chad.
“Cameroonian refugees find themselves in a context where 5.5 million people are already in need of humanitarian aid and 3.6 million of whom are in a situation of food insecurity. The context was therefore already delicate enough to allow us to find a priority place for the crisis. It's just a forgotten crisis among many other crises,” she adds.
"The next lean season will be harder than in 2021, a more serious situation than in 2020, such is one of the conclusions of the Chad 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan. This Plan was developed with the Chadian government under the leadership of OCHA on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team and partners. The Humanitarian Response Plan is a presentation of the coordinated strategic response designed by humanitarian agencies to meet the urgent needs of people affected by the crisis. It is based on and responds to the evidence of the needs described in the Humanitarian Needs Overview. The Humanitarian Response Plan identified 6.1 million people in need, 3.9 million people targeted for a required fund of US$510.9 million with 134 operational partners.
The country has a strong and well-organized coordination system under the aegis of the Government and Management of the United Nations system with the participation of all humanitarian NGOs,” she notes.
For Dr. Amadou Bocoum, Country Director of CARE International in Chad, “Inter-community conflicts are quite frequent in the Lake basin. The causes are usually competition over resources and traditional or political power. Women and children are always the first victims. An organization like CARE through its triple Nexus approach saves lives by working on both basic needs and social cohesion. We have a duty to help these displaced populations regain their dignity.”
“CARE Chad has the managerial, technical and human capacities to respond effectively to the crisis to save lives and CARE Chad's emergency response focuses on the following actions: saving the lives of people affected by disasters and conflicts, reducing their vulnerability to future shocks, and enabling them to better cope with possible future emergencies. However, it is important to mobilize more financial resources,” Ms. Sekpe also said.
Since last December, CARE International in Chad has distributed 2,307 kits to refugee women and girls. Depending on the needs of the beneficiaries, these kits presented in particular loincloths, handkerchiefs (scarves), plastic teapots, sanitary napkins, laundry soap, toilet soap and ointments to fight against skin dehydration, battery-powered torches and whistles so women can sound the alarm if they feel in danger.
The contribution of the international community to support Cameroonian refugees remains weak. The situation of food insecurity they are facing is likely to worsen day by day.
While waiting for possible aid from the international community, Cameroonian refugees are facing food insecurity with no hope of returning home soon.
“Here, everyone is poor, us and the inhabitants of the village. Like us, the inhabitants of Bourgouma do not have much to eat so they cannot share with us what little they have. We have to rely on ourselves to survive,” says 50-year-old Marguerite, who lived in her village in Cameroon, growing rice, also doing small business to support her family.
“If it is safe, I will definitely return. Unfortunately, this is not currently the case,” notes Raguel, 39 and mother of four.