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IRC provides essential healthcare for Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad

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Bredjing, Chad 07 Nov 2008 - Since August 2008, International Rescue Committee teams have been providing vital medical care, including feeding programs for malnourished children and reproductive health services for women, to around 31,000 Darfuri refugees in Bredjing camp, near the town of Hadjer Hadid in remote eastern Chad.

Around 250,000 refugees have fled Darfur (West Sudan) for camps in eastern Chad where they remain exposed to security threats such as banditry, rights abuses and the presence of both Chadian and Sudanese rebel groups.

Such a remote environment also makes it difficult for organizations like the IRC to deliver aid. Staff can only move to and from the refugee camps in organized security convoys and many vital supplies have to be brought in from Abeche or Ndjamena, respectively one or two days drive away.

Despite these conditions, the IRC is now successfully running a health center and health post in Bredjing camp, about 70km from the Sudanese border. Our team of health workers delivers public healthcare - including preventative and curative services, nutrition programs and reproductive health services. They refer those in need of more intensive care to Abeche by air or road.

"In this impoverished and remote area of Chad, the local health services are simply unable to cope with the influx of Sudanese refugees as well as tens of thousands of Chadians who've been displaced by ongoing ethnic violence and banditry," says Nora Love, acting country director in Chad.

"The IRC health interventions are therefore crucial to ensure refugees have access to lifesaving care and to prevent epidemics in the crowded camps," she adds.

In September 2008, almost 3,700 people visited the IRC health facilities to seek treatment with the most common complaints being diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and jaundice. There were 110 live births in the health center, 68 women paid their first visit to the antenatal unit and a further 238 women came for a repeat antenatal visit.

The IRC took over the Bredjing camp health facilities from Save the Children UK and Medecins Sans Frontiers in August 2008. We also provide support to the Ministry of Health clinic in the town of Hadjer Hadid, which currently benefits around 11,000 local people.

The IRC also provides healthcare to 26,000 Darfuri refugees in Oure Cassoni camp in northeastern Chad, along with environmental health, camp management, shelter and community services.