Tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees, many of them children, who have crossed the border into Chad risk a “major humanitarian disaster” when the rainy season begins within weeks, a Red Cross official has warned.
About 80,000 people have sought refuge in the country to the west of Sudan as weeks of fighting between two warring generals forces hundreds of thousands from their homes.
But the refugees, mostly women and children, are arriving at such speed that the humanitarian operation on the ground will struggle to move them all to places of safety before the rains come in late June, potentially cutting off much of the remote border region.
“We know we won’t be able to relocate all of them before the rainy season,” said Pierre Kremer, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), according to Reuters.
“It’s a bit of a race now to relocate as many as we can,” he said. “We run the risk of a major humanitarian disaster in this area.”
Ali Salam, a Chadian-American working with the Sudanese American Physicians Association (Sapa), said conditions in the refugee camp he had visited in Koufroun, north of Adré, were “heartbreaking”.
Salam, who was in the camps at the weekend as part of a Sapa team assessing the technical needs of the relief operation, said he had been shocked by the lack of basic assistance to the refugees, particularly those who arrived soon after fighting broke out on 15 April.