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UN Appeals For Safe Humanitarian Access In Chad

UN appeals for safe, unhindered humanitarian access amid fighting in Chad

The ongoing fighting in eastern Chad is preventing humanitarian workers from reaching more than 400,000 refugees and displaced persons, setting the stage for a situation that could worsen rapidly and lead to significant loss of life, the United Nations warned today.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), armed conflict is hampering the ability of aid workers to move freely and safely in most parts of eastern Chad, cutting off vulnerable groups from vital humanitarian assistance.

The UN and its partners are aiding over 230,000 Sudanese refugees and 180,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the eastern part of the country where humanitarian conditions have deteriorated over the course of this year.

Staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) have been unable to reach the affected population due to recent fighting, while restrictions on movement have impacted the ability of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to distribute the December food aid rations. This lack of aid could contribute to security problems in and around the camps as resources become scarce, OCHA warned.

"Unless immediate action is taken to ensure unrestricted and safe access to the vulnerable populations, the humanitarian situation will rapidly deteriorate and could lead to significant loss of lives," said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.

Mr. Holmes appealed to the Chadian Government to "take all necessary measures to preserve humanitarian space in the east of the country and to increase its commitment to protect civilians in combat zones.

"I also appeal to rebel movements operating in the area to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law," the UN humanitarian chief added.


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