Chad: First signs of malnutrition among refugees

Today, 41,000 persons remain in a dire situation, and MSF calls on the UNHCR and the World food Programme (WFP) to live up to their responsibilities and bring aid and protection before it is too late.
Brussels - The first signs of malnutrition are now evident among the refugee population in Goré, 25km from the Chad/CAR border. In a recent food security assessment carried out by MSF, 30% of children below 5 years of age are now 'at risk from acute malnutrition'. Yet still no food is forthcoming. As Chris Verhecken, Médecins Sans Frontières's emergency coordinator explained, "since March, the refugees have received a total of 8kg of cereal per person: less than a third of the amount required. There are no seeds to plant and there is no food to eat, the result is that in our clinics we already see an increasing number of malnourished children." From the outset of this crisis over six months ago, MSF has been providing water, shelter and medical assistance but is pushed to the limits of its capacity. MSF has repeatedly made calls to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to do more to aid these refugees. "This population is urgently in need of more assistance, particularly in terms of food and a higher level of protection," explained Chris Verhecken. "And due to the rains last weekend the situation has become even more precarious." Continuing insecurity in their homeland prevents most refugees from returning. Yet the food shortage has reached such desperate levels that some refugees are willing to risk their lives undertaking the journey. In November 2002 the first influx of refugees arrived in Chad, fleeing the war-stricken Central African Republic (CAR). Today, 41,000 persons remain in a dire situation, and MSF calls on the UNHCR and the World food Programme (WFP) to live up to their responsibilities and bring aid and protection before it is too late.