Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today warning that life-saving programmes in Chad will grind to a halt in a matter of weeks without urgent funding. The stark warning comes as thousands of Sudanese refugees continue to stream across the border from Darfur, and as the rainy season looms, threatening to cut off road access for humanitarian deliveries to the camps in the east of the country – where around a million Sudanese refugees have sought shelter.

WFP’s assistance will be suspended for 1.2 million Sudanese refugees and crisis-affected people in April due to funding shortfalls, including for new Sudanese refugees. Also at risk is the vital cross-border life-line supply route into Darfur – the only reliable route into embattled western Sudan. This route has enabled WFP to assist one million people in Darfur since August, and the organization plans to scale up assistance to reach one million people a month.

WFP is racing to procure, transport and pre-position enough stocks in the east of Chad to supply both its refugee response and its Darfur cross-border operations through the rainy season that will see roads become impassable mud rivers littered with stranded trucks. But without adequate funding, this will be impossible.

“We are in a race against time. The small window to pre-position supplies is closing rapidly and our funding is drying up at this dramatic juncture. We’ve already cut our operations in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, leaving hungry people close to starvation,” said Pierre Honnorat, WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Chad.

WFP is in the grips of a catastrophic funding crisis in Chad and has already cut across the board. Since the conflict in Sudan erupted last year, erratic funding has allowed WFP to concentrate on immediate needs only, focusing efforts on new Sudanese refugees. However, in April the organization will be forced to cut all assistance to new Sudanese refugees. For months, the majority of refugees from Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Nigeria, have received no assistance at all due to limited funding. Cutting rations fuels competition between refugees, returnees and host communities over already scarce resources, sowing the seeds of conflict and instability.

“The spillover from the crisis in Sudan is overwhelming an underfunded and overstretched humanitarian response in Chad. We need donors to prevent the situation from becoming an all-out catastrophe,” Honnorat warned.

Ten months after the violent conflict broke out in Sudan, over 559,000 Sudanese refugees and 150,000 Chadian returnees have crossed into Chad, which now hosts more than one million refugees, making it home to one of the largest and fastest-growing refugee populations in Africa.

Chad is also facing its fifth consecutive year of food crisis, with record acute hunger set to affect 2.9 million people during the June-August lean season – which coincides with the rainy season. In February, the Government declared a food and nutrition emergency – highlighting the urgency of the situation.

The majority of refugees cross the border carrying the burden of trauma, hunger and horrific tales of violence. They rely entirely on humanitarian assistance to survive. WFP assessments show food consumption at worrying poor or borderline levels for 90% of new refugees, 77% of pre-existing refugees and 67% of local communities in the east. The nutrition situation is particularly worrying with 40 percent of Sudanese refugee children under five suffering from severe anemia.

“Cutting assistance to communities facing this level of vulnerability is unthinkable. We are forcing families to skip meals and eat less nutrition food, laying the ground for crises of nutrition, crises of instability, and crises of displacement,” Honnorat warned.

To ensure continued support to crisis-affected people in Chad over the next six months, WFP urgently needs US$ 242 million.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).

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