lies wedged between Libya to the north and Sudan to the east,
in an area where North Africa meets sub-Saharan Africa. The
country has had a turbulent past and is today struggling to
overcome not only the problems caused by its harsh climate,
but also the economic and political challenges that every
now and then ignite tensions.
In recent months, the already volatile
political situation has taken a turn for the worse. In February
2008, the capital N’Djamena was gripped by violent clashes
between armed opposition groups and the regular army, before
an uneasy calm was restored.
Adding to the tensions is the temporary
presence on Chadian soil of around 250,000 refugees from the
Sudanese province of Darfur, more than 10,000 of whom have
arrived since the beginning of the year. As a result of these
movements of population, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated
amid spiralling needs.
The Red Cross of Chad and the ICRC
are working closely to assist the victims, in particular the
weapon-wounded, dispersed families and displaced people, estimated
at 150,000. Some of the displaced have been able to return
to their homes in the east of the country, where they are
provided with seed and agricultural tools to boost their self-sufficiency.
The ICRC is also continuing to provide
clean drinking water to urban and rural populations and support
to isolated health centres in areas affected by the conflict.
Its teams are also monitoring the well-being of more than
500 prisoners captured during the clashes between government
troops and armed opposition groups.
These combined efforts, which are carried
out as long as security conditions permit, are helping many
vulnerable Chadians gradually to get back on their feet, while
awaiting better days.
ICRC editor, Red Cross Red Crescent magazine.