Sunday 9 August 2015

Boko Haram: Fresh 40,000 People Displaced In Lake Chad Area - UN official

The United Nations has reported further population displacement in the Lake Chad region owing to fear of attacks by Boko Haram and appeals by the Government of Chad for civilians to leave areas where ongoing military operations are being undertaken against the group.

“For a few weeks now, more than 40,000 people have been fleeing their villages for fear of attacks, without any belongings,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad, Thomas Gurtner.

“The Lake Chad islands still face sporadic attacks and the Government is considering relocating some additional 20,000 people to the mainland, therefore increasing vulnerability among displaced population and host communities,” he added.

On 3 August, an estimated 10,000 people fled to the locality of Koulkimé, some 20 kilometres from the town of Baga Sola, in the Lake Chad basin, bringing the total of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region to around 40,000, according to the latest update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Overall, some 79,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the year, including refugees, returnees and IDPs.

The UN system is working with partners to implement immediate life-saving assistance to this new displaced population, as the area is prone to cholera outbreaks, Mr. Gurtner said. 

The volatile security situation and the rainy season are limiting physical access, slowing humanitarian assessments and response. Despite these challenges, three spontaneous IDP sites near Baga Sola have been provided with basic supplies, food and wash kits.

According to OCHA, the humanitarian community is concerned with the growing trend of forced displacement of civilians in the region.

“As elsewhere in the Lake Chad Basin, which straddles four countries, and where people have been affected by violence, the humanitarian community calls on authorities to ensure that any measures taken to counter terrorism comply with the Member States obligations under international law, particularly international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law,” it stated. 

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