Traditionally prosperous, the Sudanese province of Darfur has grown poorer in the last few decades owing to desertification and economic marginalisation. A dwindling of resources has compounded the rise in tension which persists given a weak administration, lack of basic public services and general non-respect for human rights.
After several years of tension, fighting broke out at the beginning of 2003 triggered by the two main rebel groups: the armed wing of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The conflict spread rapidly to most parts of Darfur. Events took an unprecedented course at the end of year when the Sudanese government decided to arm the Arab militia, the janjaweeds, to take on the rebels.
Acts of violence and attacks perpetrated by these militia chiefly against black African communities prompted the displacement of more than a million and a half civilians. From April 2003 to mid-2004, some 215 000 refugees poured into the frontier provinces of Chad, the BET (Bourkou-Ennedi-Tibesti) regions, Wadi Fira and Ouaddaï. These refugees are Muslim shepherds and farmers who have lost all or some of their herds, their seeds and other vital products following the destruction wreaked in their places of origin in Darfur.
The host regions are among Chad's poorest and far from ideal for accommodating large population groups. They are geographically isolated and economically marginalised. ECHO has provided support since the autumn of 2003 for relief measures to help the refugees settled in makeshift shelters along the frontier. After an initial settlement phase in provisional camps, the UNHCR launched a large-scale refugee transfer operation which was completed in May 2005 with the opening of a twelfth, camp, Gaga. The sites were chosen at a minimum distance of 50 km from the frontier in order to prevent any militarisation of the camps, instrumentalisation of international aid by rebel groups or militia incursions.
On the strength of a number of evaluations and the results of operations carried out under four financial decisions from 2003 to 2004, ECHO intends maintaining its multi-sector response capacity in 2006. In the three BET regions, Wadi Fira and Ouaddaï, the global plan identifies the following categories of beneficiaries: refugees settled in the camps, refugees who have refused to go to the camps and remain dispersed along the Sudanese frontier, vulnerable groups in the local population. The global plan will cover all traditional humanitarian assistance sectors: health, food aid, food security, shelter, water and sanitation, distribution of non-food items, population protection. It will also support the costs of maintaining adequate technical assistance in N'Djamena and Abéché to analyse changing needs, provide coordinated responses, monitor and evaluate Commission-funded operations. This global plan is valid for 15 months.
The proposed budget allocation for the Chad global plan 2006 is EUR 13 500 000.