I read this depressing story of a refugee from Central African Republic, C.A.R, how she fled the deadly violence in C.A.R only to be plagued by starvation and extreme poverty in Chad.
DOSSEYE REFUGEE CAMP, Chad — One day after arriving from the strife torn Central African Republic, 24-year-old Habiba sits quietly in a refugee reception centre in southern Chad and tries to breastfeed tiny Ramatou, the youngest of her four children. But the frail, two-month-old baby girl cradled in Habiba’s thin arms gets no nourishment from her mother.
“I gave birth to my daughter in the bush, in the middle of the forest,” says Habiba, herself exhausted and emaciated after a dangerous, three-month trek to reach safety in Chad. “I had nothing to eat and so I had no more milk.” Habiba tells me that, together with her husband and their children, she fled Bouguere, Central African Republic (C.A.R), when armed men attacked their village, killing indiscriminately. For three long months, the family walked through the bush trying to avoid danger, sleeping rough and searching constantly for scarce food and water. Ramatou was born one month into the journey.
“On the way, hunger made us weak,” Habiba recalls. “The children were always hungry. We walked through regions where there was nothing to eat, no water. We were walking for kilometres to find water.”
Late one afternoon in May, the family finally crossed the border into Chad, joining thousands of other refugees from C.A.R who arrive each month. Since January, some 14,000 refugees have arrived in southern Chad, bringing the total from C.A.R now living there to 90,000. Weak with hunger and thirst, but relieved to have finally found help, Habiba and family were transferred from the border by UNHCR staff to the Dosseye refugee camp. Although they have now found safety, their problems are not over.
They will now have to battle extreme hunger because, there’s barely enough to eat. Since January, funding shortfalls have forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations in Chad’s refugee camps by 60 per cent, part of wider reductions that now affect nearly 800,000 refugees in nine African
countries. This lack of food also disrupts proper health care and puts many at the risk of contracting various diseases and infections due to low immunity. The story of this young woman is extremely sad and I really hope that Foreign governments, especially European and more charity organizations will work together to provide sufficient help in terms of food and medical aid for these refugees. Really, no human deserves to suffer this much!