Although they look forward to a possible return home in 2011, for now many Sudanese refugees in Eastern Chad rely on WFP food to prevent a deterioration of their food security and nutritional status. WFP provides food for hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons and Sudanese refugees, many of whom fled violence in Darfur with little to no belongings. Copyright: WFP/Alexandre Brecher
For hundreds of thousands of Darfuri refugees, WFP's food rations have been essential for preventing hunger and malnutrition. WFP has provided life-saving food assistance to Sudanese refugees in Chad since 2003.
GOZ BEIDA – Abdul Hassan is a farmer from the province of Habillah in Darfur, Sudan. He is one of the many Darfuris who fled the violence in 2005 and has since established himself in Goz Beida, in the region of Dar Sila, in Eastern Chad. He has had to build a new life in a new country. But the trauma of war remains.
“I remember the days when the fighting totally destroyed our village,” recalls Abdul Hassan. “It became too dangerous for us and I had to flee the country with my family. I left my land behind – a land that had been cultivated for five generations. I’ve never been back there. No one has.”
In the past six years, Chad has hosted over 255,000 refugees from Darfur, in addition to 88,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. However, as Chad relies heavily on external assistance for its own food security, it has very limited capacity to handle this population influx.
WFP has provided the Sudanese refugees with monthly food rations since 2003. And since January 2009, WFP has assisted more than 870,000 vulnerable people, including refugees from Darfur and Internally Displaced People (IDPs), through an emergency operation in Eastern Chad. WFP provides general food distributions and targeted supplementary feeding to help reduce acute malnutrition.
Abdul Hassan lives in the refugee camp of Djabal, where WFP provides food assistance for 17,180 Sudanese refugees. He receives a life-saving monthly food ration of cereals, dry vegetables, oil, corn-soya blend (CSB), sugar and salt.
“Had it not been for the food we get from WFP, we would have died from hunger a long time ago,” says Saida, a 35-year-old refugee who fled Darfur with her children in 2004. “We needed everything, as we left with nothing at all. My children got sick from the long days of travel. I felt like I had failed my duties as a mother because I could not provide them with basic needs. But things changed for the better when we started receiving assistance from WFP.”
With the recent political changes in Sudan, 2011 will be a critical year for Sudanese refugees living in Chad, as they look forward to a possible return home.
“This is the end of the day for us,” concludes Abdul Hassan. “I want my children to grow up on my own land, in my own country.”
Insecurity, long distances and bad road conditions pose tremendous logistical challenges for WFP’s operations. Nevertheless, WFP has delivered, in 2010, more than 210,834 metric tonnes of food to the vulnerable people in Eastern Chad. This assistance operation will continue throughout 2011.