IRC in Chad continues to assist migrants fleeing Libya
Issa’s family arrived In the Faya transit camp on June 3 after a perilous four-week journey from Libya. Throughout the ordeal three-year-old Issa clutched his cherished cuddly toy. “It was amazing to see when you consider what he has been through—having to sit on top of a huge truck as it crossed the desert in extreme heat,” said Pasteur Ruberintwari, the IRC’s deputy director of programs in Chad. After arriving in Faya, Issa was treated by IRC staff at the hospital and vaccinated against measles. (Photo: Pasteur Ruberintwari/IRC)
N'Djamena, Chad 21 Jun 2011 - The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is continuing to assist thousands of Chadian migrant workers fleeing the conflict in neighboring Libya.
Over 70,000 Chadians who had been working in Libya have returned since violence erupted in the North African country in February, according to the United Nations. Many arrive in Chad weak and sick after a journey across the desert that can take three weeks under harsh conditions.
IRC aid workers and medical staff are treating some 400 migrants a week in the town of Faya in northern Chad, where the IRC is providing support to the overburdened local hospital. Many of the migrants have contracted measles which require special care and quarantine. The IRC plans to set up a health center specifically for measles cases in a transit center in Faya which shelters women, children, and other vulnerable returnees.
“It’s important that the burden on the hospital is lifted so that the local population can start using it again without worrying about catching the disease,” said Felix Leger, the IRC’s country director in Chad.
The IRC, working with local health officials and UNICEF, has meanwhile vaccinated 7,500 local children between the ages of 9 months and 15 years against measles. To help further prevent spread of the disease to the local population the IRC will systematically vaccinate all children of migrants when they arrive in Faya, Leger said.
For migrants who decide leave the transit camp and return to their home villages, the journey south can be as treacherous as the flight from Libya. “Journeys across the desert are extremely dangerous,” said Leger. “Recently, we had to rescue a truck in the desert that was ferrying fifty migrants from Faya. They had been stuck for three days.”
To help migrants on their trek the IRC has set up a way station in Salal, in central Chad, 315 miles (507 km) south of Faya. The way station has two permanent nurses on duty and supplies of medicines, food and water.
Meanwhile, more migrants continue to arrive in Faya. “They stay for two days and then move on to other parts of the country,” said Leger. The IRC will continue to assist and support them for as long as we are needed.”