As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson embarks on a multi-nation trip to sub-Saharan Africa, Refugees International delivered a letter to the secretary urging the Trump administration to use this critical opportunity to reaffirm U.S. humanitarian support, while advocating for policies that promote the safety, dignity, and rights of refugees and displaced populations in the sub-Saharan region. In the letter, Refugees International President Eric Schwartz underlines the urgent challenges in Nigeria and Kenya in particular, stating that swift action is needed by the U.S. administration to address ongoing humanitarian and displacement crises in those nations.
More than ten years after first arriving in Chad, over 360,000 Sudanese refugees are now dealing with a new reality. In the face of dramatic food ration cuts, and after years of shrinking support from the international community, aid agencies are pushing these refugees to become self-sufficient and more deeply integrated with their Chadian hosts. With the global humanitarian system overstretched, a more sustainable and targeted assistance strategy for this population would seem reasonable. But the early stages of this transition have encountered serious problems.
Twelve years after they first fled, refugees from Sudan’s Darfur region are still stuck in eastern Chad. Chad is one of the poorest countries on earth, and the 360,000 Sudanese refugees live in some of its least developed regions. The climate is harsh, agriculture is often impossible, and government services like education and healthcare are largely non-existent.
From atop a rocky hill in eastern Chad, Ali looked out at Farchana camp, home to almost 26,000 of his fellow refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan. In his field of vision, Ali could see a maze of mud-brick shelters, women chopping firewood, and roving bands of giggling children. But to Ali, all these things don’t simply amount to a refugee camp: they are a symbol of defiance
We are in the refugee camp of Touloum in eastern Chad and the sun is bright. The camp is surrounded by desert for miles in every direction. It is quiet in the camp as we walk through, except for a small group of children who are playing outside and the occasional sound of a donkey trudging through the sand.