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“People are arriving tired and traumatised”: Concern’s Prudence speaks to us from Chad
Prudence Ndolimana is Goz Beida Area Coordinator for Concern in Chad. In this piece, Prudence explains how the conflict in Sudan is exacerbating an existing humanitarian emergency in Chad, what Concern is doing to help, and what your support truly means to those in crisis.
I have been in Chad with Concern for four years, since July 2019. I am originally from Rwanda where I also worked for Concern. Before working in this sector, I was a teacher. However, in Rwanda in 1994, we had a huge humanitarian crisis leading to children being separated from their parents or orphaned and people becoming widows/widowers. I was among the few people who had stayed in the country, and was touched by what was going on at that time. I joined a humanitarian organisation and worked for a long time to support my fellow citizens. I then decided to support others outside of my country – which is how I came here to Chad.
The current context in Chad, in light of the Sudanese conflict
I am working on the response to the humanitarian crisis in Chad/Sila Province, exacerbated by the current conflict in Sudan. The conflict has forced people to flee across borders into neighbouring countries, including Chad. In the eastern part of the country, we have received roughly 30,000 people. In the Sila region where Concern operates, we have received 6,459 people - around 1,895 families.
These people are scattered in various transit sites near the border. The conflict surprised them; they were not prepared for this. People arrived mainly in two waves, though there are still people coming: the first group of people fleeing had a few items with them; the second came with nothing. They had to travel long distances to arrive to safety in Chad – some travelled more than 100 km, which takes over a week – they have arrived tired and traumatised.
There were already around 60,000 refugees in this area of Chad, which means there is now a crisis on top of a crisis.
People need food, shelter, clean water, medical treatment, household items such as cooking utensils and jerry cans, and they need mosquito nets. In a big group, there are always more vulnerable people: children, pregnant women and people with disabilities that need protection.
In any humanitarian crisis, women, children, elderly and people with disabilities are the most vulnerable. Women are particularly at risk when travelling long distances in search of water and firewood. Inadequate shelter and sanitation facilities put people at risk for all types of violence including Gender Based Violence. Pregnant women and recent mothers may not have adequate antenatal care.
How Concern is helping
We are in the phase of assessing needs and coordinating our response. The focus of Concern’s response will be on providing shelter, basic household items, mobile health clinics and nutrition support, as well as WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) as clean water is a big challenge. We ensure our programmes are conflict sensitive and include protection measures to ensure that people can live together in harmony and are well-received into the communities where they will be living.
Our response is under a time pressure and the logistics here in Eastern Chad are difficult. The rainy season will begin next month and lasts until September. During the rainy season, the riverbeds fill up and the roads are blocked. There is currently also a major fuel shortage in the country. With the oncoming rains and fuel shortage, transportation will become increasingly difficult therefore, it is necessary for us to act quickly to ensure we can supply vulnerable households with the support they need. It is a challenging issue that must be taken into consideration by all of us.
Here, people are kind and the local communities are open to help – but they don’t have the means. That is where we come in to assist. We are supporting both those fleeing and those who are here already. We help them all together.
Why support Concern?
I personally like the way Concern is organised in terms of being clear in its policies, guidance and values – it values people. Concern has a lot of respect for the people we work with, and I can see the positive change it makes to people’s lives. Concern is accountable and it makes me very proud to work for such an organisation.
What we see here is beyond what we wish for human beings. There is a lot of suffering – there are people who are hungry but have no food, people who are sick but have no treatment; there is no clean water and no shelter. I assure you that your contribution - whatever it is or whatever it will be - will be well-managed and will go towards improving people’s lives. Thank you.
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