UNHCR urges immediate aid for Sudanese refugees in Chad

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has issued a stark plea for international assistance as the humanitarian crisis gripping eastern Chad intensifies.

The call to action comes amidst a surge in Sudanese refugees fleeing across the border, compounded by escalating health risks, security challenges, and the imminent onset of the rainy season.

Since April 2023, ongoing conflict in Sudan has forced over 600,000 refugees and 180,000 Chadian returnees, predominantly women and children, into Chad. More than 115,000 people have arrived just since the beginning of 2024, with an average of 630 crossing the Adre border daily over the past month alone.

The influx shows no signs of slowing, driven by dire conditions in Sudan including widespread conflict and food shortages akin to famine.

UNHCR and its partners have expanded existing refugee settlements and established six new ones, alongside constructing two villages for Chadian returnees.

However, these efforts are falling short amidst overwhelming needs. Approximately one-third of new arrivals are currently living in precarious conditions in spontaneous sites along the border.

The town of Adre, originally home to 40,000 people, now struggles to accommodate a sixfold increase in population, leading to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

The upcoming rainy season, expected from June to September, threatens to exacerbate these conditions, potentially triggering outbreaks of waterborne diseases and hindering humanitarian access.

The situation is further complicated by intensified conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, with reports of ongoing violence, looting, and village burnings driving additional displacement.

A looming famine in Sudan could further escalate refugee flows into Chad.

UNHCR underscores the urgent need for $80 million to build three additional refugee sites equipped with essential services, aiming to relocate an additional 150,000 anticipated new arrivals. Despite efforts, the 2024 appeal for eastern Chad remains severely underfunded, with only 10 percent of the required $214.8 million received to date.

The agency urges all parties involved to facilitate the safe movement of civilians within and out of conflict zones, emphasizing the critical need for international support to mitigate the deepening humanitarian crisis in the region.

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