Increasing insecurity and displacement in the Lac province
The latest upsurge in armed attacks and insecurity across the Lake Chad Basin has driven thousands of civilians to seek refuge in Chad’s western Lac province where renewed violence also disrupted livelihoods and took a heavy toll on local communities, particularly around Ngouboua and Tchoukoutalia. Since the beginning of the year, over 23,000 people have reportedly been displaced in the province - including the arrival of refugees from Nigeria, returnees from Niger and the new displacement of previously displaced communities seeking security and assistance.
18 people killed and over 50 abducted including women
Since the beginning of the joint military operations in Nigeria, alleged armed group incursions are recurrent in Chad, where several attacks attributed to non-state armed groups have resulted in cases of kidnappings, killings and thefts. On 22 May, a series of attacks by armed men were reported, north-west of Diamerom and close to Tchoukoutalia, killing five people and leading to the abduction of over fifty people, including women. On 16 May, an armed group also attacked the village of Selia, located about 30km south-west of Bol, killing 13 people and burning several houses, making it the largest attack on civilians in 2019. These attacks and incursions have led to an increased sense of insecurity among the general population. Since March, the prevailing insecurity in the province has also led to temporary aid delivery suspensions and movement restrictions by several humanitarian organizations in areas around Kaiga Kindjiria, Diamerom, and Boma – affecting over 10,000 registered beneficiaries.
On 16 May, a multi-sector assessment mission, which had planned to deploy to Kaya, Yakoua and Koudouboul to evaluate the needs of newly displaced communities, was cancelled in extremis by local authorities. It is estimated that around 2,000 people had fled Fitiné Island after an attack on 4-5 May and found refuge in these three sites, located around 12km south of Bol. According to local authorities, these newly displaced people must return home as soon as possible because measures are being taken to strengthen security around Fitiné and to protect populations. However, for displaced communities to return home voluntarily in safety and dignity, they require accurate and objective information on which to base their decisions. The authorities have a responsibility to ensure this is available as part of their responsibility to establish the conditions and provide the means for safe and voluntary return. Concerns remain regarding the security situation in island areas, as the context continues to be volatile and precarious. According to teams that had visited Kaya and Yakoua sites on 8 and 11 May, a rapid response is necessary considering several risks faced by the displaced: children are currently out of school, people are consuming water from the lake thus facing with the risk of waterborne diseases, and their food access is scarce given they are currently being hosted by other formerly displaced communities. Thus, the distribution of water purifiers and hygiene kits, scheduled for 16 May (UNICEF via the NGO Action Contre la Faim) on the three sites will no longer take place. The multisector assessment mission team was composed of national and international NGOs, representatives of government technical services and leads from six sub-clusters (Health-nutrition, education, protection, food security, WASH and CCCM/Shelter-NFI).
Over 14,300 people displaced including 4,000 refugees since January
A series of populations movements have been reported in the past months, including around 700 people who have been registered in early March near Baga Sola, most of them women and children who fled other displacement sites. Another 300 people arrived in Kegua in March, having reportedly come from Niger. Already in January, 4,000 people arrived in Diamerom and claimed to have fled from Niger, while authorities have yet to clarify their status. An attack in Bourboura in February also led to 1,300 people fleeing the Bol islands and finding refuge in Baboul2. Following attacks on Baga Kawa in Nigeria, 4,048 people crossed into Ngouboua and were registered in Dar es Salam refugee camp in early January. Upon their arrival, WFP distributed high-energy biscuits and provided them with food vouchers. They have since benefitted from UNHCR's multi-sector assistance. Aid agencies have used much of Chad’s limited contingency stock to respond to the needs of newly-displaced people.
The forthcoming June to August lean season requires anticipating and extending support to displaced populations as well as their host communities in the Lac province, where 130,472 displaced people and 15,456 refugees rely on humanitarian assistance to survive and risk facing worsening levels of food insecurity. Closed borders with Nigeria and Niger as well as ongoing insecurity continue to limit access to food markets and trade for populations in the Lac province, despite the reduction of market prices throughout the country.
Of the US $476 million required for the whole country US $140 million are needed to respond to the most urgent needs of 330,000 people in the Lac region, including 130,000 IDPs, host communities, returnees, and refugees whose population stands at around 15,000.