Chad: top UN officials on humanitarian response

Chad Map
Chad Map

In Chad, top UN officials say humanitarian response must go ‘hand in hand’ with longer-term recovery

Senior United Nations officials on Sunday called for stronger joint humanitarian and development interventions in Chad as the crisis-riven central African country as it tackles poverty, displacement, malnutrition, and lack of access to basic social services.

Wrapping up their first joint visit in Chad, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock visited a nutrition centre in the capital’s Chad-China Friendship Hospital, where more than 16,000 children suffering from malnutrition are admitted annually.

“I was profoundly touched by the plight of the women and children I met in the nutrition centre in N’Djamena today,” said Mr. Lowcock, who heads up the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

While he commended the efforts and actions undertaken to deal with one of the biggest nutrition crises the people of Chad have faced, he stressed that the bigger challenge is to prevent children being in this position to start with.

“Humanitarian assistance can save lives, but the solution is development, economic progress and better livelihoods. The United Nations stands ready to support the Government, who must lead in this process,” he said.

In N’Djamena, the two UN officials also met with senior Government representatives and parliamentarians, and discussed plans for national development, poverty reduction, the regional situation, and the recent Lake Chad Basin Region conference in Berlin.

“The challenges the country faces have roots in development deficits and climatic realities that have made living conditions for communities caught up in the crisis, even worse,” said Mr. Steiner, adding that there was urgent need for a scale up in the response.

Around 4.9 million people are in need of urgent support, with the majority of them food insecure. Over half a million are in need of shelter: “We call upon our partners to engage in multiyear financing to facilitate mid and longer-term planning. Stepping up now will help us address the crisis today, tackle the underlying causes and help people build resilience to better cope with and be able to stand on their own after the crisis,” Mr. Steiner added.

The humanitarian response plan 2018 in Chad requires $544 million to respond to the needs of the 2.1 million people who are the most vulnerable in the country. To date, only 35.6 per cent of the funding has been received.

This visit concludes a three-day trip to Nigeria and Chad, during which the two UN officials looked at ways both humanitarian and development actors can better support national support efforts, including in the Lake Chad Basin crisis. While in Nigeria, Mr. Steiner and Mr. Lowcock called for more support to ease the humanitarian crisis and rebuild lives in conflict-ravaged north-eastern part of the country.