Chad: Sudanese Refugees in Birak Region Under Threat

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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Stuck in a highly volatile security context, Sudanese refugees who have recently arrived just over the border in Birak, Chad, are in an extremely worrying situation. With ongoing combat a few kilometers away from their settlement, the lives of the refugees and those who remain in targeted areas in Darfur, are still at risk. Insecurity also hampers relief efforts in the area. If refugees do not receive basic assistance in the coming weeks, their health situation could worsen rapidly.

Following recent bombings and attacks on the area of Seleia, in West Darfur, several thousand people sought refuge in the Birak area of neighboring Chad. MSF teams immediately set out to evaluate the needs of the refugees in Birak. Between 7,000 and 8,000 people have been identified, scattered over several sites in the area. Some have been able to bring belongings, such as animals, or food, and they have received some assistance from the local population. Yet, their situation remains precarious.

Many who managed to cross the border are traumatized. Families have become separated and have no news of those who were left behind in Darfur. According to refugees in Chad, a number of people sought refuge in the Jebel Moon Mountains, an area where fighting was reported last Monday, which raises additional concerns for civilians there. MSF teams have not yet been able to access Seleia and the surrounding area to assess the situation after recent attacks. There are reports of violence against women who cross the border into Sudan at night to look for cattle, food, water, or family members.

In Birak, MSF and a few other organizations have provided the most urgent assistance, ensuring medical care and distributing food and relief items, such as plastic sheeting, jerry cans, soap, and blankets. During the last week, however, teams had to be evacuated due to insecurity. If refugees do not receive basic assistance in the coming weeks, their situation could worsen rapidly.

In Eastern Chad, MSF provides primary and secondary health care, psychosocial care, water and sanitation to Sudanese refugees and to Chadian either displaced or resident in Abeche, Adre, Farchana, Goz Beida, Dogdoré, Guereda, Iriba and Am Timam. From Guereda, our teams supports four neighboring health centers including the one in Birak.