IRC Distributes Crucial Items, Plans Aid Program for Displaced in Chad
Thousands of people have fled fighting between local Arab villagers and the African Kibet tribe, said Sheri Ritsema, the IRC’s acting country director in Chad. Ritsema helped distribute the items as part of a trip to assess conditions in the villages of El Kouck and Ardo, which are housing the displaced. “Some have built houses inside the host villages and others are living in temporary shelters or under trees. These people have lost everything,” Ritsema said.
The IRC is planning to launch programs to further assist the displaced, as well as supporting social initiatives that could bridge the gap between the two rival ethnic groups. “We need to figure out the conflict’s root causes and how to address them,” Ritsema said. “In the short term, we are planning to build wells and distribute blankets, mosquito nets and school materials so displaced children can gain access to education.” But relief must come quickly, Ritsema said, before June rains cut off access to the area. It is especially important to provide people with seeds and tools so that they can plant before the rains start.
The conflict in the Am Timan region is part of a growing trend of instability across Chad and in the border area with Darfur, Sudan. Ethnic conflict around Am Timan has affected an estimated 5,000 people. In all, some 100,000 people are believed to be internally displaced by conflicts inside Chad, conflicts that have been exacerbated by the war in Darfur.
The IRC began working in Chad in 2004 to aid refugees from Darfur and continues to manage a refugee camp housing 26,000 people in the northeast of the country.