An international aid agency is warning today (Thursday) that eastern Chad is on the verge of becoming another Darfur. OXFAM says attacks on villages have displaced tens of thousands of Chadians, leaving them with little water and no sanitation. The warning comes as the UN Security Council nears a decision on sending a peacekeeping force to the region. VOA’s Joe De Capua reports.
Roland Van Hauwermeiren is in charge of OXFAM operations in Chad. He says militia attacks and ethnic violence have created a new humanitarian crisis.
“We have in four months an increase of violence in country, which led us to have 50,000 internally displaced people fleeing internal clashes, fleeing spillover border clashes, fleeing rebels. And in the end those 50,000 people are standing on our door,” he says.
The latest surge in internally displaced Chadians brings their number to 120,000 since May of last year. Most relief agencies are currently pre-occupied with the 230,000 refugees that have fled the neighboring Sudanese region of Darfur.
“For the moment, nobody here from the humanitarian workers or agencies have the capacity as such to help immediately. Because the whole set up of our institutions was made to help Sudanese refugees,” he says.
The OXFAM official says refugees are much better off than the displaced Chadians.
“Refugees have a status, have a right to so many liters of water, so many latrines in a camp. The camps are somewhat protected. Where the IDP’s just come with what they have left on their body. Maximum one donkey, maybe half a pot of rice. And they come next to that refugee camp and to the humanitarian aid workers trying to get the same support as the refugees,” he says.
Van Hauwermeiren says, on average, each displaced person gets only three to five liters of water each day. The international standard in humanitarian emergencies is 15 liters per person per day.
And they lack sanitation. Animal and human waste is reported scattered in areas where the displaced gather. And children walk with bare feet.
“Actually, there is no sanitation at all and has already created some serious diarrhea and other diseases in some settlements. So I started bringing in some planes with sheeting material and digging material and rigs to try to improve water capacity. And we started creating sanitation. But for 50,000 people, we expect 2,500 latrines minimum. So this will take some time,” he says.
He says security is always a problem, adding his staff has been attacked.
OXFAM is calling on the Chadian government and the international community to help end attacks on civilians. It says if the UN Security Council approves a peacekeeping force for eastern Chad, member states must give it full financial and logistical support.