A Community of Returnees in Chad Helps WFP Help Them

by World Food Programme | World Food Programme
Monday, 3 February 2014 08:27 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Nearly 23,000 people have taken refuge in Chad following escalating violence in Central African Republic (CAR). While many new arrivals are Chadian, they return to an unfamiliar country and lack a strong support network. In the town of Goré, people staying at the local health center have come together to create an organizing committee and help the humanitarian community provide assistance to those who need it.  

Gore, 24 January 2014 - Starting in December 2013, people fleeing insecurity in Central African Republic started crossing the border into southern Chad. In the town of Goré, nearly three thousand people are now hosted on the grounds of the town's health centre. A total of almost 23,000 - including many Central Africans- are in six temporary sites along the border and more arrive every day. WFP is providing a 7-day ration of food to cover their immediate food needs and prevent acute malnutrition.

"When the Chadian government gave us the opportunity to flee to Chad, I sent my wife and my four children first," Anour Omar recalls. "A few days later, I came too". Most of the residents of the transit site come from the area of Paoua in CAR. "I was born in Salamat but moved to Paoua 33 years ago. I came back only once before". Many of the transit site residents - in majority women and young children - were born in CAR and have lost their support network in Chad.


A month after the first arrivals, the small community of Goré is better organized: despite the reduced space, each family has found its small area. Children fetch water at the public pump, women cook and wash clothes, some small shops are scattered around the site. "When we arrived here", Anour explains, "we found that the people needed a way to inform the authorities and the humanitarian community about their problems. This is why we created our committee. It helps identifying the issues and transmitting them to those who are here to help us. It also helps building a community". The committee has thirteen members, including the imam of the community and three women. 

"We are learning everything by doing," Anour continues. "For example, when we realized that it may be difficult for women to approach a committee made mostly by men, we encouraged them to create a women's committee," he says, pointing to some of the ladies who are helping out with the food distribution.  In the transit sites, WFP currently distributes cereals, pulses, oil, fortified flour, as well as high-energy biscuits. More than 70 mt of food have already been distributed to 23,000 people in Southern Chad. 

When asked about the biggest difficulties for the newly-arrived people, Anour has a word of thanks for the government and the humanitarian community: "We received a lot of support from everyone. Our biggest problems remain shelter and schooling for the children, as we deal with the uncertainty of our future."  Mr Anour asked for training on how to better manage the community. Considering the fact that he is a self-made humanitarian, he is already doing a pretty good job!