Restriction measures related to COVID-19 affect humanitarian access and aid
Following the first reported case of COVID-19 in Chad on 19 March 2020, national authorities took preventative measures against the pandemic, including nation-wide restrictions of movement. In the South, population movements are monitored closely due to transborder activities with Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Local authorities in the Nya Pendé district decided to suspend humanitarian activities on the Bekan axis in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. This measure was renewed several times over a period of three months. This decision resulted in the suspension of food distribution in refugee sites, directly impacting 6,948 refugees (1,500 households) who live in different sites along the Bekan axis and who have been deprived of food assistance and agricultural inputs for the past three months. Among these refugees, 1,055 are part of the Food for Asset program, and 1,354 are children aged six to 23 months. In the South, HCR reports 131,060 people in food insecurity (phases 3 to 5 of the Cadre Harmonisé).
Government support, central to the continuous delivery of humanitarian assistance, has since allowed humanitarians to be exempted from certain restrictive measures in order to carry out their operations. The total removal of movement restrictions for this route was announced on 16 June. Food distributions resumed the week of 22 June, with a double distribution covering the months of June and July, and the distribution of nutritional inputs and seeds for livelihood activities. The epidemiological situation in the South is getting more and more concerning and it could further deteriorate due to frequent supply shortages (anti-malaria, anti-tuberculosis and anti-HIV/AIDS medications). Since the beginning of the year, 7,305 measles cases have been reported, as well as 330 cases of meningitis and 90,737 malaria cases in the Southern provinces. One case of acute flaccid paralysis was recorded last 18 June in the Moyen-Chari province, which now joins the list of provinces (Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental and Tandjilé) to be in a state of declared cVDPV2 polio epidemic. As for the spread of COVID-19 in the South, 32 cases were reported as of 16 June.
The South is directly impacted by daily movements of returnees and refugees between CAR and Chad, which could potentially impact the humanitarian community of Goré and their beneficiaries. In the South, a total of 16 security incidents were reported during the months of May and June in relation with CAR/Chad and Cameroon/Chad transborder crime. Cases of kidnapping for ransom were reported. Suicide has become more frequent and could be linked to the worsening socioeconomic crisis due to COVID-19. More generally, the humanitarian situation in the South has deteriorated: several donors stopped their financing and a few humanitarian organizations have suspended their activities as a result.