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Deteriorating Situation in Eastern Chad
As humanitarian organizations pull out, MSF is worried about the people who need assistance in Chad
December 6, 2006
"The security situation is constantly getting worse and the most recent fighting in Guereda has pushed some humanitarian organizations to pull their staff out from that area," says Duccio Staderini, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) head of mission in Chad. "We are worried that by reducing the humanitarian presence, the situation will only get worse for the resident population, the displaced, and all the refugees who depend on assistance provided by humanitarian organizations."
Insecurity has made land transportation extremely dangerous and nongovernmental organization (NGO) vehicles have been looted, forcing organizations to rethink their activities. For the last two months, MSF teams have not been able to reach Tine, a town on the border between Chad and Sudan, where they were supporting the local health center. Today the capacity is reduced, but the structure is still functioning thanks to the work of Chadian Ministry of Health staff.
"In Iriba, the situation is getting tenser day by day. People are worried because there are rumors of militaries and rebel groups moving in the area and because humanitarian organizations are suspending their activities and evacuating their staff. People are scared of being abandoned and losing the vital support they receive from nongovernmental organizations," says Gael Hankenne, MSF project coordinator in Iriba.
In Iriba , a team of 11 international staff, around 100 Chadian and 200 Sudanese workers, continues to provide medical assistance to both Sudanese refugees and the Chadian population. In Touloum and Iridimi refugee camps, where around 36,000 people live, MSF provides 5,000 consultations per month. In Iriba hospital, which provides 1,000 consultations per month, MSF recently increased the surgical capacity by sending an additional surgeon. Since September, more than 120 war wounded were treated in the hospital.
"We are not able to say if and for how long we will be able to maintain our different projects. Today we provide free medical assistance for tens of thousands of people without any political or religious discrimination. We hope we will be able to continue to do so and that all the different actors involved in the conflict will respect the work humanitarian organizations are doing to help people in need," says Staderini.