An IOM mission is underway to begin helping several thousand migrants currently stranded in the remote mountainous Chadian border town of Zouarké close to Niger.
According to the Chadian government, more than 3,800 migrants including 310 women and children are in a very difficult situation in Zouarké with limited food, no water and transport to make their journey south.
With no-one to help them and without transport to take them to Faya, 600 kms south east of Zouarké, many are famished and suffering from exposure to extreme heat and dust. Water is also a key issue with the nearest well 7 kms away from the town. Four people are reported to have died from drinking its contaminated water.
The IOM team have taken essential medical supplies to Zouarké as 53 migrants are reported to be sick from severe dehydration and other illnesses, or injured with broken bones. An IOM truck loaded with food and water supplies in addition to an empty truck to bring back the most vulnerable among the group are following the team to Zouarké and are due to arrive there in a day or so.
Among the most vulnerable are heavily pregnant women and young children left behind by other convoys, unable to travel in the heavily over-crowded trucks. Two children are believed to have died from suffocation as a result of the overcrowding in the trucks they were travelling on from Libya.
En route to Faya, the migrants arrived in the border town between 20-29 April after making a long and dangerous journey from Libya via Niger.
Landmines along the Aozou Strip between Chad and Libya are forcing migrants to transit through Niger in order to reach Chad. Zouarké is the first arrival point for those arriving from Gatroun, about 800 kms away in Libya.
The situation at Zouarké could become a catastrophe. Another 1,000 migrants on 10 trucks travelling from Gatroun are expected to arrive there in the coming days and will also be in urgent need of water, food and medical care.
In addition to taking supplies to Zouarké, the IOM team will carry out an assessment to determine appropriate action to reduce the threat to the lives of thousands of returning Chadian migrants. This could include the setting up of a way station to provide water, food, medical care and other emergency assistance for migrants travelling along this route.
More than 25,000 migrants, mainly Chadians have so far arrived in the remote northern towns of Faya and Kalait from Libya since the crisis began.
For further information, please contact Qasim Sufi, IOM Chad, Tel: + 235 62 900 674 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486 / +41 79 217 3374 Email: email@example.com