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A forgotten country

Louise Finan recently spent some time in Chad with Concern. Here she gives us her impressions of the country.

Before leaving Ireland I had been told that eastern Chad was a forgotten country; a forgotten humanitarian crisis.

As soon as I got off the tiny UN plane that brings you to the Concern base in Abeche, it became apparent that Chad’s tag-line wasn’t an exaggeration. The land in the east and north is arid, rocky and verging on desert, certainly no lush green fields like home. I don’t think we saw more than a few kilometres of tarred road when flying over the country, and cars are overtaken by donkeys and camels as the main form of transport.

The initial shock of arriving in a country so deprived was overtaken with the constant battle not to melt in the crazy high temperatures. I was constantly in awe of the Chadian people who would walk several kilometres a day to collect water, food and firewood without even breaking a sweat. I was lucky though and arrived at the beginning of the rainy season which brought temperatures down to the low 30s!

The rainy season does bring its disadvantages however, namely for the displaced Chadians who are living in makeshift huts in camps along the Sudanese border. On the surface the huts they had constructed looked adequate, but as soon as the first rains started you realised that almost every home would be flooded within a matter of minutes. These rains would also make the sanitation facilities worse and further pollute many of the makeshift water points.

After seeing this first hand, myself and the rest of the Concern team were energised - despite the harsh conditions – to get on with the job of providing the basic aid which is so desperately needed.