Governments look away as Chad crisis worsens

Published: 24 May 2007

As the UN appeals for an extra US$23,415,570 for the humanitarian crisis in Chad in Geneva today, international agency Oxfam criticized international donors, particularly Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain and Australia, for their inadequate or non-existent response to the existing UN appeal and called on them to give generously to the aid effort.

Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International said: "The international community has so far failed to halt the spread of this conflict. Civilians are bearing the brunt of this crisis, leaving many on the very brink of survival. This has been an international political failure. The crisis must not become an international humanitarian failure due to a lack of adequate funding."

This year the UN has appealed for $174m (£82.5m) for Chad but has only received $72m (£36m). Approximately only 20 percent of the total needed has been given in cash that can be used to immediately save lives, the remainder is promises of food aid that can take months to arrive. Some vital life saving sectors, such as water and sanitation and shelter have yet to be funded.

Oxfam is calling on rich countries to fund urgently the appeal if the increasingly desperate humanitarian needs are to be addressed.

Based on each countries' 'fair share' of contributions to the UN appeal Oxfam calculates that Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden have very generously gone over and above their fair share, but Germany and France are giving well below theirs.

Oxfam is particularly critical of those countries that so far have failed to make any contribution what-so-ever to this year's UN Chad appeal which include Japan, Italy, Spain and Australia. The UK has told Oxfam that it will be giving $10m (£5m) to humanitarian work in Chad. Oxfam calculates that the UK's fair share for the UN appeal should be $12m (£6m).

Not all rich countries' donations to Chad go to the UN appeal with approximately $14m (£7m) being given to humanitarian work not included in the UN appeal.

The humanitarian crisis is quickly deteriorating with increased needs because of the recent numbers of people forced to flee the fighting. Since May last year the numbers of Chadians forced to flee the fighting in the eastern part of the country has more than quadrupled, from 30,000 to 140,000. The situation has now reached an even more acute crisis with 10,000 people needing urgent assistance following attacks over the last month.

In Chad some 375,000 people have sought shelter from armed conflict, almost quarter of a million are refugees from neighboring Darfur. In parts of the country aid agencies are only managing to get four liters of water to people a day for all their needs when the basic minimum ration should be 15 litres.

Since January, Oxfam has responded to the crisis around Goz Beida in eastern Chad, helping tens of thousands of people displaced by the fighting by digging boreholes to provide clean water, building latrines to improve the sanitary conditions and conducting public health outreach work to prevent disease outbreaks. The international agency is providing life saving assistance to some 60,000 people in Chad.

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