CAR REFUGEES IN CAMEROON AND SOUTHERN CHAD: LIVING IN DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS AND IN NEED OF EMERGENCY FOOD AID
PARIS, France, February 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Thousands of people who fled violence in the Central African Republic have now arrived in Sido, southern Chad and eastern Cameroon. These civilians have had no choice but to escape the violence in their country. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls all other humanitarian actors to mobilise quickly and provide assistance to refugees in these neighbouring countries.
The thousands of refugees who fled CAR and have arrived in neighbouring Cameroon and Chad, now lack clean water, decent shelter and food, warn MSF.
Refugees who reached Sido in southern Chad, have endured an exhausting trip on convoys, many of which came under attack in the CAR. They are now experiencing extremely precarious sanitary and living conditions. In the last five weeks the refugees have received only one food distribution from the World Food Programme (WFP), which took place on January 20. “More than 8,000 refugees have arrived since that time,” says Augustin Ngoyi, MSF programme coordinator in Sido. “They have not gotten anything to eat, apart from the few protein biscuits that some of them received.”
In Sido, people are living in makeshift shelters, with the newest arrivals camped out under the trees, protected only by their clothes. There are just 20 latrines and four water points for the 13,200 refugees there now. Malaria represents nearly 30% of the diseases treated at the MSF health center. MSF treated 56 children with acute severe malnutrition over a 16-day period.
In Sido, local authorities on site are struggling to deal with this crisis, but face a desperate lack of resources and support. MSF is the only international organization working in the area.
“The refugees need emergency food aid, as well as mosquito nets, shelters and latrines,” Augustin Ngoyi says. “The U.N. agencies, including the WFP, and the Chadian authorities must act right away.”
In mid-February, MSF opened a health center in Sido, Chad and will set up a hospitalization unit with a therapeutic feeding center. In Bitoye, MSF teams see approximately 100 patients per week and have vaccinated nearly 7,000 people, refugees and residents, against measles, meningitis and polio. In N'Djamena, where several thousand refugees are still gathered, MSF mobile teams provide medical care at several transit sites. In addition to responding to these emergency needs, MSF operates regular projects in Abéché, Am Timan, Massakory, Moissala and Tissi.
An estimated 22,000 Central Africans have fled to Cameroon since the beginning of 2014. In Garoua-Boulaï, a small town in eastern Cameroon, thousands of people are living under trees and are only able to rely on the solidarity of the local community there to feed and clothe themselves. "People who are in Garoua-Boulaï and other locations we visited are living in unacceptable conditions," says Jon Irwin, Head of Mission for MSF in Cameroon.
In Mborguéné transit camp, some 45 km from Garoua-Boulaï in eastern Cameroon, a health centre has been set up which will be able to cover the medical needs of 10,000 refugees.
South of Garoua-Boulaï, new groups of people are still crossing the border from CAR. The remote area where they have settled will be unreachable during the rainy season. The transfer of refugees from this zone to camps which would ensure their security and the delivery of assistance should be considered an urgent next step.
"When our teams were informed of groups of refugees scattered along the border with CAR, we immediately set up a mobile clinic in Mboy. Until that point, they had not received any support and had been left to fend for themselves, " said Jon Irwin.
MSF has been present in Cameroon since 1984. Since February 2014, we have deployed emergency teams in the east, to provide primary medical care to refugees through collaboration with the Ministry of Health.