Tell The UNHCR To Help Feed 300,000 Darfuri Refugees in Encampments in Eastern Chad
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Even though Darfur remains unsafe to this day, the Sudanese government has tried to convince the international community otherwise. As a result, the UN began decreasing and withholding food rations in August 2018 to force over 300,000 refugees who escaped the genocide in Darfur to leave 12 encampments in eastern Chad (where many have lived for more than a decade). As of April 2019, many refugees have gone without food rations for as long as eight months.
In November of 2018, Jewish World Watch reported that their contacts within the camps told them of decreases in food rations that fall way below the minimum daily recommended caloric intake.
The Darfur Women Network has contacts within the camps as well. In April 2019, 145,990 Darfuri refugees reached out to Darfur Women Network to make their voices heard and appeal to individuals, organizations, and institutions to rescue them. The Camp Committee recorded conversations with refugees representing six different encampments that reported receiving no food rations since August of 2018. They state that as many as 400 people have died from malnutrition and starvation.
Along with forced starvation, representatives of the World Food Program (WFP), The Chadian organization CANR, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced a “Voluntary Return Program.” The governments of Chad and Sudan, as well as the UN, have continued to push the myth that Darfur is safe and stable and that the refugee encampments are scaling down, which is simply not true.
Sudan remains unstable. After months of nationwide citizen protests, even as the Sudanese president was removed from power earlier this month. Jewish World Watch reports that according to Radio Dabanga insecurity in Darfur remains an urgent issue. Armed militiamen roam the countryside, causing violence, lawlessly controlling land.
Many refugees have nothing to return to in Darfur. Without programs that provide housing and jobs to help them reintegrate back into society, refugees feel doomed, and most are unwilling to leave, even if it means starvation.
It is important to note that forcing refugees to leave may violate international law.
Ann Strimov Durbin, a human rights attorney at Jewish World Watch, writes the following:
"International law prohibits forcible return under the principle of nonrefoulment– a rule of customary international law that is also codified in the Refugee Convention and is violated in situations where stakeholders put so much direct or indirect pressure on individuals that they have little or no option but to return to a country where they face serious risk of harm."
The Darfur Women Network has worked tirelessly to help refugees in Chad by raising awareness of their plight. We have helped women gain income by making safe cooking stoves that they sold to us, and we, in turn, gave back to the refugees for free. We have also worked to help women and girls in the camps stay safe, and ensure that the refugees have clean water. We fear it is not enough.
We're asking the UN to work with Chad and Sudan toward a more equitable solution for the refugees, that includes their voices. As well, we ask them to end the starvation and intimidation that these proud people have endured for many months.
Help us! Add your voice to our effort by signing the petition!
Mastora Bakhiet, Executive Officer, Darfur Women Network, Inc.
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