Wet Season Threatens Migrant Returnees, Refugees in Chad

from International Organization for Migration
Published on 30 Apr 2013

With the wet season expected to begin in Chad within the next month, the situation of thousands of refugees and Chadian migrants currently stranded at four Chadian border posts is becoming increasingly precarious.

Some 25,000 Chadian migrants are currently stranded at Tissi on Chad’s eastern border with Sudan, after fleeing inter-communal fighting between two Arab tribes – the Misseria and Salamat - around the gold mines of Djabal-Amir in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The fighting which started in January has now spread to remote villages in the area and gangs of criminals, including Janjaweed militia, have taken advantage of the situation by attacking and looting the properties of goldmine workers, most of whom are Chadians.

The fighting in Darfur could lead to a further influx of migrant returnees and Sudanese refugees from Sudan in the near future. Initial data indicate that there are also some 450 Chadian returnees from the Central African Republic (CAR) at Tissi in need of urgent assistance.

"We have left all our property behind, as we had to escape with our lives. Our father has been killed. Our properties have been burned," one victim of the fighting in Darfur told IOM.

IOM Chad is currently undertaking registration and profiling of Chadian returnees in Tissi to determine the exact numbers from Sudan and from CAR and their respective needs. The data will be shared with the government and humanitarian agencies, including the UN World Food Programme (WFP.)

IOM has already begun to ship essential non-food relief items to Tissi. It has also begun constructing a transit centre, office and storage facilities in the town.

On Chad’s southern border with the CAR, UNHCR has reported that more than 5,000 refugees have entered Chad in the past few weeks and are now temporarily camped in Maro, a town located close to the CAR border.

Another vulnerable group of an estimated 900 Chadians migrants from Nigeria has also arrived in remote border towns bordering Lake Chad in the west of the country.

The fighting last week between the Nigerian military and the Islamist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, which left 185 people dead, has also caused many Chadians living in villages along the Nigerian border to flee their homes. IOM is currently planning a joint assessment mission to the area with the Chadian authorities.

Another influx is unfolding on Chad’s northern border with Libya, where last week IOM was informed of the sudden arrival of some 2,000 vulnerable Chadians in Wour, Tibesti. The migrants were recently released from detention centres in Libya and arrived destitute. IOM has this year already assisted some 1,600 Chadian migrants returned from Libya.

Many of the migrants who arrive at Chad’s border entry points are in a wretched condition, suffering from health problems including respiratory infections, severe dehydration and wound infections. They arrive with few or no possessions and are invariably hungry, thirsty and exhausted.

IOM is working with the Chadian Red Cross, local authorities and humanitarian partner agencies to provide emergency shelter, sleeping mats, bed sheets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, food, water and medicine to the returnees. It is also providing medical referrals and onward transport to their home areas. Many of the returnees will also need reintegration assistance to survive.

The upcoming wet season in May means that the humanitarian response in all border regions and particularly in the Lake Chad and Dar Sila (Tissi) regions, needs to be accelerated and aid stocks expanded. When the rains begin, the roads will become inaccessible and eventually impassable.

IOM is urgently appealing for US$ 4 million to respond to the pressing humanitarian needs of the returnees from Libya, CAR, Sudan and Nigeria, who are currently stranded at Chadian border entry points.

Last week, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) gave IOM US$ 0.5 million to provide transport to their final destinations for Chadian returnees from Libya and Sudan.

For further information please contact Qasim Sufi at IOM Chad, Tel: +235.62900674, Email: qsufi@iom.int.

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