Race against time to aid new Darfur refugees in Chad before rains begin
21 May 2013 - International Rescue Committee teams in Chad are trucking emergency water supplies into the country’s Tissi region to aid thousands of refugees who fled there in recent months to escape worsening violence in Darfur, Sudan.
“It is a race against time to get the supplies into Tissi and get critical services up and running before the rainy season begins in the next couple of weeks,” says Felix Leger, who runs IRC operations in Chad. “The rains will turn Tissi into an inaccessible island. As its roads become rivers, we will become dependent on helicopters to get additional aid deliveries in.”
IRC trucks are carrying materials and equipment needed to set up a mini-station to pump, treat and distribute water from Lake Tissi. A team of six technicians has been deployed to set up the system, which in its initial phase will provide 70,000 liters of clean water daily—enough potable water for 5,000 people a day to drink, cook and bathe.
The United Nations estimates that some 50,000 people have fled to Chad’s Tissi region from violence-ridden areas of Darfur, Sudan since January and are living in makeshift shelters in eight areas. They include Sudanese refugees as well as Chadians who had been living in Sudan.
“An IRC emergency assessment found an alarming lack of clean water and sanitation where the refugees and returnees are settling,” says Leger. “People are consuming water from the lake where they are also bathing and taking their animals to drink. And with only 10 latrines in the entire locality, people are also defecating near the lake. It’s a health crisis waiting to happen in an area already prone to outbreaks of disease during the rainy season.”
Leger says the IRC will also launch a health and hygiene promotion campaign as a means of preventing disease and its spread.
About the International Rescue Committee: A global leader in humanitarian assistance, the International Rescue Committee works in more than 40 countries offering help and hope to refugees and others uprooted by disaster, conflict and oppression. During crises, IRC teams provide health care, shelter, clean water, sanitation, learning programs for children and special aid for women. As emergencies subside, the IRC stays to revive livelihoods and help shattered communities recover and rebuild. The IRC also helps resettle refugees given sanctuary in the United States.
The IRC launched programs in Chad in 2004 to aid tens of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict in Darfur, Sudan. Today, the IRC assists 84,000 Darfuri refugees in three camps and more than 30,000 Chadians living nearby with water, medical care and education programs. The IRC also provides free emergency health and nutrition care to 120,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers in western and central Chad.
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