A Community of Returnees in Chad Helps WFP Help Them
Nearly 41,000 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. While the majority have already returned to their villages, 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.
Anour Omar is among the nearly 3,000 people now hosted at the town of Gore’s health centre. “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 at the transit site are returning 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,” he says. Many of the transit site residents – mostly women and young children – were born in CAR and no longer have a support network in Chad.
One month after the first arrivals, the small community of Goré has successfully organized itself; despite limited space, each family has found a small area. Children fetch water at the public pump, women cook and wash clothes, and some small shops are scattered around the site.
The committee Anour heads has 13 members, including the community imam and three women. “When we arrived here, we found that the people needed a way to inform the authorities and the humanitarian community about their problems,” he explains. “This is why we created our committee. It helps identify the issues and transmit them to those who are here to help us. It also helps to build a community.”
“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 points to several women who are helping to distribute food.
WFP is currently distributing cereals, pulses, oil and fortified flour at the transit sites, 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 new arrivals face, Anour first has a word of thanks for the government and the humanitarian community. “We received a lot of support from everyone,” he explains. “Our biggest problems remain shelter and schooling for the children, as we deal with the uncertainty of our future,” he adds.
Mr Anour asked for training on how to better manage the community. In uncertain and unfamiliar conditions, he and the people of Goré have already made impressive progress.