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Forcibly Displaced in Chad Facing Twin Security and Environmental Crises

By Lisa Schlein August 30, 2020

The U.N. migration agency reports Insecurity and flash flooding is upending the lives of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people in the Lake Chad Basin.

Chad's Lake Province borders Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. The region has been under repeated attacks by multiple armed groups since 2015 forcing millions of people to flee.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 360,000 people in this part of Chad are forcibly displaced. IOM spokesman, Paul Dillon says new figures show a 22 percent increase in the number of people who have fled their homes since April. This, he says, means that over half of the region's population now is considered displaced because of the protracted insurgency.

"Recurrent security attacks and incursions by non-state armed groups since the beginning of the year prompted the Chadian Government in March to declare the departments of Fouli and Kaya, two of Lake Chad's borderlands departments as war zones," he said. "Complicating the forced displacement in response to the security issues, the Lake Region is experiencing the highest rainfall in nearly 30 years."

IOM reports flash flooding of villages and fields have prompted nearly 12,000 people to flee between August 8 and 16, one of the highest numbers it has ever recorded in such a short period.

Dillon calls this a worrying trend as the displacement keeps recurring with increasing frequency. He says people are facing a double security and environmental crisis amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.

"Three-quarters of the displaced persons IOM identified live in displacement sites, most of which are made from straw and metal structures," he said. "Many of them sleep in the open without adequate protection from the ongoing, continuing bad weather, with limited access to amenities such as water, hygiene installations, health services and COVID-19 protective equipment."

IOM is providing emergency humanitarian aid to thousands of vulnerable people, including temporary or semi-permanent shelters, and non-food items including hygiene kits, sleeping mats and basic cooking equipment.

The agency says it also is involved in a range of peacebuilding, community stabilization and recovery activities.

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