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“The forgotten people within a silent crisis”: no signs of improvement for hungry people in Chad

By Oxfam
In the township of Yarom hundreds of people sought refuge from Boko Haram. Pablo Tosco / Oxfam Intermón

More than 335,000 people continue to go hungry in the Lake Region of Chad –where only ten doctors are currently working and humanitarian funding is desperately needed.

“Today, on World Food Day, we reflect that more than 200,000 children in the Lake Region of Chad are suffering from some form of malnutrition,” said Oxfam’s Chad country director Ilkana Mooh.

"People here were always able to earn a living but are now deprived of any possibility of doing so. Boko Haram's attacks and the government’s military strategy have forced them to leave their homes and livelihoods, and offered no alternatives. The Lake Chad conflict is a silent one, and here in Chad you find the forgotten among the forgotten," said Mooh.

People have told Oxfam they hold no hope of their lives improving.

"We're hungry," said Adoum Hassane. "We're very hungry. We eat once a day. Sometimes not even that." Hassane’s six-year-old son died due to complications from malnutrition. "His stomach made noises," he said. "When we took him to the health center, the nurse said: ‘It is not a disease, it is the hunger.’"

There are tens of thousands of people in Lake region like Hassane, who have found refuge in displacement camps and are dependent daily upon aid. The international community has provided only 32 percent of the $121 million humanitarian appeal. It is clearly insufficient to help them all.

Civilians are still threatened by insecurity and the government’s military strategies that prevent them from accessing their livelihoods such as fishing, farming, or trading.

"We lived like kings before the war," says Adam, a former fisherman who fled from the Lake Islands after a Boko Haram attack. "We bought what we needed, we ate good things. Now it's Oxfam or the Red Cross that give us something to eat. We were only able to save our lives.”

Oxfam says the Chad government must ensure that the safety, security, and protection of civilians are made a more important part of its military operations. It should support communities in finding new economic activity in their current location and in returns areas.

Chad itself is 186th out of 188 countries in terms of wealth.  Within its own territory, the Lake region is one of the poorest. There are only 10 doctors in the area providing health services. Illiteracy is high and the schooling rate is at 37 percent. Well under five out of every 10 people don’t have clean drinking water. In addition, to its own conflict and developmental challenges, Chad has also to cope with refugees from its neighbors, Sudan and Central African Republic.

Oxfam works in the Daboua area in the Lake Chad region and has supported more than 50,000 people with potable water or cash to cover their most basic needs. Our work also focuses on finding long-term solutions for the displaced population, and on helping them get birth certificates and other documentation. 

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