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UN Seeks $23 Million for Displaced People in Chad

The United Nations is appealing for $23 million over the next three months to help tens of thousands of internally displaced people in eastern Chad. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva that the U.N. says it needs the additional money because the number of Chadians who have become displaced has nearly tripled in the past six months.

Six months ago, there were 50,000 internally displaced people in eastern Chad. The United Nations reports that number has jumped to nearly 150,000.

At this rate, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Chad, Kingsley Amaning, says the number of displaced is soon likely to match or even exceed that of Sudanese refugees in the country.

He notes that 210,000 refugees from Darfur are currently being cared for in U.N.-run camps in Chad.

"The cause of it is first and foremost the expanding and disturbing insecurity in the areas which is fueled by the proliferation of arms linked to the various civil wars that have occurred in Darfur, around Darfur, in the Central African Republic and in Chad itself," he said.

At the same time, Amaning says the lack of security is making access to the internally displaced and other vulnerable groups more difficult and is increasing the need to provide protection. He says the displaced are subjected to violence and human rights abuse and many have been killed. Their cattle and property have been looted.

He says the displaced lack food, water and the bare necessities of life. He says they live a precarious existence marked by destitution, hopelessness and helplessness.

He describes eastern Chad as inhospitable with few natural resources. He says relief supplies have to be brought from outside the country. This makes humanitarian operations expensive. He says lack of access to some areas and continuing insecurity add to the difficulties and the expense.

"Water is a very rare commodity and it costs us a lot to be able to get to provide it," he added. "Food has to travel all the way from Europe, through the Mediterranean, through the ports of Libya, across the deserts of Libya and Chad all the way to this region. That is expensive and quite often these convoys are attacked by armed people and therefore, the supplies can also become erratic."

The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator says time is of the essence. He says the international community must act before the rains begin at the end of June, when it will be too late to bring in essential supplies. He says muddy roads will make most of the areas where the internally displaced people live practically impossible to reach.