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Refugees in Chad face health catastrophe without more support

Sudanese refugees in Chad urgently need shelter, food, water, health care, and protection.

A crowd of Sudanese refugees sit inside a tent while awaiting medical care from Doctors Without Borders staff.

Chad 2023

NEW YORK, August 14, 2023 — Sudanese refugees arriving in border areas of eastern Chad urgently need shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care, and protection, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today, calling for the international community and humanitarian organizations to scale up their response to this crisis. 

More than 380,000 people have fled to Chad from Sudan since a conflict broke out in Khartoum in April and rapidly spread across the country. Many survivors describe facing extreme violence, including along the way to the Chadian border. At least 2,000 people continue to arrive each day. Most are women and children. 

The lack of services could rapidly lead to a health catastrophe, MSF warns. Refugee camps and transit centers around the city of Adré, eastern Chad, are now full. People are being transferred to newly constructed camps farther away, where shelter and basic facilities are wholly inadequate. 

Sudan crisis response

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"They're being moved into camps where there's not yet access to water," said Trish Newport, MSF's head of emergencies. "These are camps in the middle of the desert. There's no shelter, there are no latrines. And people don't have anything with them. With conditions like this, we are extremely concerned about disease outbreaks, which could occur if the humanitarian response is not urgently scaled up." 

Malaria cases have sharply increased with the onset of Chad's rainy season, and people are at increased risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera

How MSF has responded so far 

Health needs are already high in camps where MSF works, such as Camp Ecole in Adré, which now hosts 150,000 refugees. MSF supports a 250-bed pediatric ward at Adré hospital and runs a 38-bed clinic in Camp Ecole, as well as an ambulance service for patient referrals. The clinic is continuously full, with staff carrying out 400 consultations per day and seeing a high level of malnutrition. Some patients cannot continue their treatment for malnutrition because they are rapidly being relocated to other camps, making it difficult for the MSF team to track them. 

MSF has so far installed three borehole wells at Camp École and delivers clean water by truck to multiple camps, but the needs are far greater than what MSF can meet alone. In Ambelia and Ourang camps, people are forced to begin lining up for water at 2 a.m. due to a dire water shortage. 

Services strained under increasing needs 

Before the conflict in Sudan began, Chad was already host to more than one million refugees and internally displaced people. The significant increase in refugees arriving from western Sudan this year is straining the available resources. Food prices have gone up in Adré, and most of the new arrivals cannot afford to buy food. This situation also affects local communities, as their cost of living has risen while incomes remain stagnant. 

There is a crucial need now for international resources to address the humanitarian needs in eastern Chad. MSF appeals to the international community to urgently provide shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care, and protection services for the thousands of people fleeing unspeakable violence, who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and loved ones in Sudan. 

Sudan crisis response