Situation Report #3 – Internally displaced people crisis in the Lac (15-31 May 2020)
Security crisis in the Lac: a hidden war waged against local populations by non-state armed groups The security situation in the Lac province remains worrying, in light of the intensification of attacks by non-state armed groups (NSAG) in the Lake Chad Basin region, despite military interventions such as the Operation "Wrath of Boma" conducted by the Chadian army from 31 March to 8 April 2020, in response to the attack on Boma of 23 March. During the month of May, several attacks were reported in the province, including the killing of some 20 fishermen committed by NSAG in various villages of the sub-prefectures of Ngouboua and Kaiga Kindjiria. In addition, the state of emergency measures in place affect the civilian population, particularly farmers and fishermen, who are forced to leave their living environment suitable for pastoral and fishing activities and risk being associated with NSAG by the Defense and Security Forces. This situation is likely to cause even more population displacements, destabilize the local economy, exacerbate nutritional crises and directly increase the vulnerabilities of populations in the provinces of Lac, Kanem and Barh-el-Gazel.
Internal displacement crisis and COVID-19 in the Lac The results of the 11th round of the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) carried out by IOM between 16 and 30 April 2020 reveal that 298,803 people are internally displaced in the Lac and scattered over 204 localities including 162 sites and 42 host communities. This situation is the result of the ongoing insecurity related to the activities of armed groups and military operations in the Lac. For security reasons, in the insular border areas of Niger and Nigeria, severely impacted by security incidents, 40 per cent of the localities were assessed by telephone, to respect the restrictive measures taken by the authorities to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. A 13 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) was observed compared to the previous round, due to the displacement of people from the insular border areas of Niger and Nigeria towards the mainland, following military operations launched by the Government against the armed groups in the region. These displacements put people at greater risk of being infected with COVID-19.
Overview of displacements following the operation "Wrath of Boma" Military operations launched by the Chadian army against a NSAG in Chad following the attack on Boma of 23 March, as well as the establishment of a state of emergency declaring the departments of Kaya and Fouli as " war zones”, forced 20,806 people to move from the islands to the mainland, eventually finding refuge in Diamerom, a town located 95 km northwest of Baga Sola. The newly displaced joined around 10,000 existing IDPs on the site who had previously moved to this area due to armed incursions on their insular villages in 2019. To ensure the protection of the new IDPs, the authorities organized their relocation to the Amma site, considered safer, located 30 km from Diamerom and 20 km from Liwa, in the department of Fouli. The Amma site had already been hosting a community of around 2,000 IDPs since 2017. On 11 May 2020, the relocation of the new IDPs to the Amma site began under the leadership of the local Government, which coordinated logistics and security aspects. For their part, humanitarian partners undertook all the preliminary measures to guarantee the relocation was done on a voluntary basis, and to ensure peaceful coexistence with the existing IDPs of Amma. Humanitarians also ensured the relocation was done in compliance with protection standards and COVID-19 preventive measures, through awareness-raising sessions with traditional authorities and the provision of more than 30 handwashing stations and soap to curb the spread of the pandemic. The operation ended on 23 May with the transfer of 12,463 people (4,706 households), which is lower than the initially estimated number of 20,000 internally displaced people. This is explained by the fact that some people did not want to move too far from their district of origin, mainly due to agricultural and pastoral concerns.
Towards an improvement of the living conditions of IDPs from Diamerom to Amma Humanitarian partners in the Lac province have mobilized resources for the IDP relocation from Diamerom to Amma. Sectoral assessment missions strove to enable optimal mobilization of resources, albeit these remain insufficient, to meet minimum standards. An important work of spatial delimitation and reorganization of the site of Amma carried out by a team comprising the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Red Cross of Chad (CRT) allowed parcels of 16 blocks of 100 plots each. Regular communication between the humanitarian community and the administrative authorities helped reduce difficulties and constraints during the process.