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Arriving in Kerfi

To launch the Chad blog, Margaret Ward, foreign editor with RTE, has been contributing a diary of her recent experiences in Chad. In the past, Margaret has reported from places such as Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Kosovo and North Korea. In this diary she gives a glimpse of what life is like for the people affected by the conflict in Chad, as well as for the Concern staff members who are working in the area.

A bowl of green leaves to be turned into a bitter sauce is all Khamisa Abdelkarim has to add to a ration of millet for dinner. Surrounded by her grandchildren, Khanisa sits outside her tiny hut: "We are here because of the war", she said. "This is not our village. They came on horses and camels with guns, we don’t know from where. Many people were killed, I don’t know how many."

Khanisa is one of the more recent arrivals in Kerfi, a small town that has been overwhelmed by those fleeing the violence in the villages nearby. Today we are distributing mosquito nets and blankets to Khanisa and others displaced by the fighting.

Kerfi, in south eastern Chad is at the centre of an area that has seen a complex cycle of violence. For those caught up in the cycle the results are death, burning and looting and the displacement of an estimated 170,000 Chadians.

Howa Seid shows me the inside of her tiny hut. She and her husband and two children live in a space of about 50 square feet. She and her daughters sleep on a makeshift bed, her husband on the floor. They cook inside the hut. There isn’t even room to stand up. A few jerrycans, a basin and a couple of plates are all she owns. She holds up her half bag of millet, the only food for the family until the next distribution by the aid agencies.

South eastern Chad is already one of the poorest places on earth. Life here is a constant battle for survival, with those living in some of the most marginal land on earth inevitably competing for resources. When you add guns into the equation, it makes for a volatile mix.

Additional information: Concern’s activities in Chad

The Concern programme has been focusing exclusively on the displaced population in Goz Beida, with the main focus on managing sites there and distributing supplies when needed. The main requirement in four of the displaced camps was for plastic sheeting and mosquito nets, which Concern finished distributing in mid-August.

A contingency stock of plastic sheeting, blankets and mosquito nets for an estimated 2,500 households is being stored to facilitate new arrivals or any unforeseen events in the camps. A planned distribution of blankets has been delayed until November, with the blankets in storage in Goz Beida.

Coordinating with the UN Refugee Agency in Goz Beida and Abeche, Concern is to try to ascertain future needs through the end of the year and plan accordingly.