The United Nations warned Friday that it would no longer be able to feed 600,000 refugees in Chad within weeks unless it receives urgent international funding.
The UN’s World Food Programme said Chad was hosting the biggest refugee population in west and central Africa, with the numbers rising due to unrest in neighbouring Sudan.
The WFP said that despite refugees being a priority, it had to reduce its plans to support 455,600 refugees down to only around 270,000 in April.
“We have already done a drastic targeting to ensure that the poorest among the poor will be assisted,” WFP’s Chad country director Pierre Honnorat told reporters in Geneva via video-link from the capital N’Djamena.
However, “we have absolutely no funding from May onwards for the refugees and displaced people. It’s really catastrophic.”
WFP wants $142.7 million for the next six months to feed all crisis-affected populations in Chad, including refugees, the 380,000 internally displaced, and other Chadians who have been hit by extreme weather in recent years.
“If no further funding is received, food assistance will come to a 100 percent halt in May 2023 for both refugees and internally displaced,” the agency said in a statement.
Chad is facing its fourth consecutive year of very high severe food insecurity.
The country suffered the worst lean season in a decade last year, plus the most devastating floods in 30 years. WFP said there were 1.9 million people in Chad who are food insecure.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said it was looking to raise $172.5 million to provide protection and relief assistance to one million forcibly displaced people and their hosts in Chad.
“That is just 15 percent funded so we desperately need money for that country,” UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh told reporters.
He said the agency was encouraging Nigeria and Chad to look at voluntary returns of refugees.
“The numbers envisaged might be relatively modest but we think this is an important signal in terms of finding solutions for the displaced in Chad but also for the region.”