In Chad, MSF supplies follow long path to Sudanese refugees

ALT Dieter TelemansThe supplies included kits to provide 10,000 people with the most important medicines and medical material and also therapeutic food for malnourished children for three months.

N'Djamena - A cargo plane that flew from Belgium with 33 tonnes of relief goods, as well as additional staff, landed at the international airport of N'Djamena, capital of Chad this morning. The goods and staff, intended for Sudanese refugees who have gathered in Chad, have been transferred to a second internal flight, on a smaller plane, to an airstrip closer to the refugees. The goods must then be driven another six to seven hours before finally reaching the refugee population.

The UNHCR is present at the location at the two small border towns, Tiné and Birak. MSF is the only NGO currently working at the refugee site where between six and ten thousand Sudanese people have crossed the border into Chad. They fled Sudan to escape fighting between the government and rebel forces: 75% of these refugees are women and children.

MSF raised this emergency in an September 16 press release, Chad: Thousands of Sudanese refugees caught in humanitarian disaster. Conditions are severe and the refugees are packed in a very small space, with shelter often little more than a blanket suspended by a piece of string and some sticks. The families are living side by side, often separated by less than 20cms of space. Although it is very hot during the day, at night the temperature plummets to very cold conditions. The refugees are vulnerable to respiratory infections as well a additional medical problems.

On board the cargo flight was material to build two health centres in the small border towns of Tiné and Birak in the very eastern part of the Chad. The supplies included kits to provide 10,000 people with the most important medicines and medical material and also therapeutic food for malnourished children for three months.

In addition, three 4WD - needed to reach the remote towns - arrived with the plane, as well as material for the provision of clean water; including pumps, pipes, tanks and chlorination material.

The plane flew from Ostende, in Belgium, to the N'Djamena airport where the material was unloaded and transferred to a smaller national cargo plane that will fly to the town of Abéch&eaacute; in the eastern part of the country. From there it will take another six to seven hours drive with 4WD before the relief goods reach their final destinations of Tiné and Birak.

On the flight to Abéch&eaacute; there was also be a team of nurses, doctors and logisticians in order to start the project as soon as possible. MSF intends the project to be fully functioning by next week.