‘Harsh’ conditions for Sudanese refugees arriving in Chad

Woman with her children at Adré Camp in eastern Chad (Photo: Majd Holbi / Concern Worldwide)

Over 16,000 people have fled from Sirba in West Darfur to the Chadian area of Grena, while refugees warn that the lack of safe drinking water, food, and healthcare could cause disease outbreaks. 

Chadian journalist Adam Osman told Radio Dabanga that several refugees arrived in Chad from war-torn Nyala in South Darfur in recent days, pointing to the lack of services for refugees. He described conditions in the Adré and Abéché refugee camps as “harsh.” 

He said that international organisations in the camps receive refugees continuously with no aid provided, due to the weak international response. 

Abdelrahman Babiker, a refugee in the area, told Radio Dabanga that more refugees are arriving every day. They are living in tragic humanitarian conditions with approximately three families forced to live in one tent. They have not received any assistance from the UN or Chadian authorities since their arrival at the end of July, he said. 

There are several wounded adolescents among the refugees, who need to be transferred to the hospital for surgical treatment. “Organisations are providing primary care to some patients,” he said. 

Babiker said a delegation from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Chad’s refugee commission has visited refugees in the area and promised to provide water and repatriate refugees to fixed camps, “but promises are yet to be fulfilled. Large quantities of millet and shelter materials were sent by Sudanese initiatives abroad.”

Activist Ibrahim Shammou told Radio Dabanga that Chadian authorities and UN organisations have transported many refugees from Adré, about half a kilometre from the Chad-Darfur border, to the Ourang refugee camp, 42 km southwest of Adré, and the Arkoum refugee camp, which lies about 40 km from the Ourang camp. 

He explained that Ourang camp currently holds 22,500 people who were moved more than a month ago. Many of them suffer from the lack of shelter from heavy rains. 

“A team from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) arrived at the camp and conducted a medical survey, but they have not yet started.” He explained that it is difficult to obtain drinking water, even though organisations provide water sources. Due to the substantial number of refugees, it takes two hours to obtain a jerrycan of water. 

Organisations distributed a one-time food ration to last one month, which included a kilo of rice, a quarter of a kilo of sugar, and a limited amount of sorghum. 

“People are arriving with very little and with a lot of trauma,” says Reka Sztopa, Concern Worldwide’s Regional Director for West Africa and Sahel. “There are officially almost 192,473 refugees who have been registered in Chad, and the prediction is that it may go as high as 250,000 by the end of the summer.”