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Chad: UNICEF Responds As Children Escape Conflict

2009-04-02

N’ DJAMENA, Chad/ Geneva, 3 April 2009 – UNICEF is assisting thousands of children who are fleeing the conflict in the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR).

More than 3,000 new refugees have arrived in Chad, in addition to the 7,000 who had already arrived in January. Women and children are around 83% of the total population.

“The priority is safe water, food, immunization and non-food items, especially plastic sheeting, before the rainy season”, said Dr. Marzio Babille, UNICEF Representative in Chad.

The children’s agency has launched “Massambagne Operation”, named after the place where the refugees are arriving. After the registration process of the refugees, the first humanitarian deliveries include immunization against measles (a potentially deadly and debilitating disease in the developing world) and Vitamin A. In addition, water purification sachets and malaria bednets will be distributed. Safe water supply will be provided through four manual water boreholes in the area. Recreational kits and School in a Box have also been provided. Child protection experts are assessing whether the children have been separated from their families and the number of children acting as head of households, so their specific needs can be addressed.

A complex logistical operation is being established to provide supplementary and therapeutic feeding using ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for the severely malnourished children following the recent nutrition survey completed by Medecin Sans Frontiers in the area.

“The remoteness of these areas poses significant logistical challenges, particularly with regard to the upcoming rainy season from May-October,” said Dr. Babille

Since 17 January, over 7,000 refugees from CAR have entered southeastern Chad, following clashes between Rounga rebels and the national army of CAR. The majority of the refugees are in Daha, 200 meters from Chad’s border to Central African Republic, where UNICEF and UNHCR have set up a temporary base.

As conflict in CAR continues, more refugees are expected to arrive over the coming weeks.

To ensure a continuation of humanitarian activities for Central African Republic refugees, UNICEF has established a temporary base in Haraze with other UN agencies. The plan will include flying supplies to Haraze, where there is possibility to land and then transferred by road to Massambagne, which is 70 Km from Haraze.

The number of people in Chad who are refugees, or driven from their homes within the country due to conflict is mounting. There are currently 65,000 CAR refuges in Chad. This is in addition to the 260,000 Sudanese refugees in Eastern Chad and 170,000 internally displaced people in the East and Southern parts of the country

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.