During visit to Chad, UN humanitarian chief meets with Central African refugees

Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, greets children at a returnees camp in Bossangoa in the Central African Republic (February 2014). Photo: OHCA

6 May 2014 – The top United Nations relief official today visited with mostly women and children fleeing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) by taking refuge in Chad, where they are receiving food, vaccines and other support from UN agencies and partners.

Valerie Amos, visiting Chad for the first time in her capacity as the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, visited a transit site for refugees in Gaoui, near the Chadian capital.

More than 100,000 people displaced by the increasingly sectarian conflict in CAR are in Chad and urgently need shelter and food, according to the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which Ms. Amos heads.

“I hope that my visit will be an opportunity to raise the profile of the impact of the CAR crisis on Chad and be an opportunity for Chad to get recognition as a country that has welcomed refugees,” Ms. Amos said at a press conference in N'djamena, noting that the Government also hosts Sudanese refugees, and requires resources to support them.

Her visit is also aimed at looking at the impact of food insecurity and malnutrition on the country's humanitarian situation.

Accompanied by Robert Piper, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, Ms. Amos is discussing how to support a more resilience-oriented approach to address chronic malnutrition and food insecurity in the Sahel.

The Sahel stretches from Mauritania in the west to Eritrea in the east, a vast belt dividing the Sahara desert and the savannahs to the south, which has undergone three major droughts in less than a decade and where more than 20 million people are at risk of hunger and an estimated 5 million children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition.

In February, the UN and its global humanitarian partners appealed for $2 billion on behalf of some 20 million hungry people in the Sahel region, where violence and insecurity has created protracted internal displacement and where population growth is outstripping food production.

During the visit, Ms. Amos is meeting with President Idriss Deby and other Government officials, as well as representatives of the UN and of non-governmental organizations, including UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Thomas Gurtner.

Before returning to New York, Ms. Amos is scheduled to also travel to the Chadian city of Mao, which is known for sparse vegetation.

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