Sudanese refugees face 'all-out catastrophe' in Chad as funds dry up: UN

Sudanese refugees face 'all-out catastrophe' in Chad as funds dry up: UN
Sudanese refugees in Chad will face catastrophic repercussions if funding for live-saving aid dries up, the World Food Programme has warned.
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Sudan's vast western region was still reeling from the carnage of 2003 when a new war broke out last April [Getty]

Life-saving food aid in Chad for hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Sudan will grind to a halt in April without international funding, a United Nations agency warned Tuesday.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for $242 million in donations to continue supporting 1.2 million Sudanese refugees, as the approaching rainy season threatens to cut off road access for humanitarian deliveries in eastern Chad.

"We are in a race against time," WFP's Chad director Pierre Honnorat said in a statement.

"We've already cut our operations in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, leaving hungry people close to starvation.

"We need donors to prevent the situation from becoming an all-out catastrophe."

Sudan's vast western region was still reeling from the carnage of 2003 when a new war broke out last April between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The latest violence has uprooted some eight million people in Sudan, adding to the more than 400,000 refugees who had already fled to Chad between 2003 and 2020.

Before the recent conflict, WFP was assisting 1.4 million refugees in Chad from conflicts in neighbouring countries.

But it has now been forced to suspend assistance to the majority of refugees from Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Nigeria "for months".

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More than 559,000 Sudanese refugees and 150,000 Chadian returnees have fled to Chad since the recent violence, making the desert nation one of the "fastest-growing refugee populations in Africa", the WFP said.

The United Nations Security Council called Friday for a ceasefire in Sudan for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The fighting has left thousands dead.

Chad's transitional president Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno declared a "state of food and nutritional emergency" throughout the country in February.