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Working in Chad: difficulties and dangers

Chad is one of the most difficult and dangerous areas for aid workers. It is also one of the places where people are most in need of help.

As such, the country serves as a perfect example of why this week we are highlighting the work of humanitarian workers and the dangers that they face in carrying out their work.

Complex situation

Concern’s Peter Doyle spoke to us about some of the issues facing humanitarian workers in Chad

“The situation in Chad is complex. There is conflict between the state and armed opposition groups, as well as high levels of insecurity and banditry.

Ongoing conflict

“There is also heightened tension between Chad and Sudan. Both countries accuse each other of supporting the various armed opposition groups. The ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic is also leading to difficulties due to the large influx of refugees fleeing the violence.

Forced to flee

“At the moment, Chad is hosting about 268,000 Sudanese and 74,000 Central African Republic refugees. As well as this, attacks by armed rebels, inter-ethnic violence and tensions over land access have led to about 171,000 Chadians being displaced within the country.

The risks

“Agencies like Concern are trying to help as many people as possible based on humanitarian principles such as impartiality, independence and neutrality.

“However, access to the affected people can be dangerous for humanitarian workers. Just recently, two humanitarian workers were kidnapped in the border town of Adé and so far only one has been released. Last year, the head of an international NGO was shot dead while travelling in eastern Chad.

Importance of neutrality

“Often, accessing certain areas involves accepting armed escorts. This is something that is strongly resisted by humanitarians as it blurs the lines between the civilian and the military. This could make humanitarians seem as though they are working with the military and result in the loss of our independence and neutrality.

Political resolution needed

The ability to reach the most needy and to ensure the security of staff depends in many ways on acceptance by the local communities. However, it is also vital that there is a political resolution to this complex conflict.