Oxfam forced to stop activities after violent attacks in eastern Chad

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 11 Jul 2008

International aid agency Oxfam temporarily suspended activities and relocated staff from Kerfi in eastern Chad after armed men entered the compounds of several non-government organisations, intimidating and attacking humanitarian workers.
Ensued clashes between the Chadian National Army and attackers resulted in the death of at least one man and several injured people. This violence is unprecedented in Kerfi and has forced Oxfam to stop activities until the situation has improved.
Oxfam’s compound was attacked in the middle of the night by six armed men. Perpetrators shot several times and attempted without success to burn down a house where Oxfam’s staff were in hiding. All staff are safe and have been relocated to Goz Beida.
Speaking from Chad, Oxfam’s Country Director Roland Van Hauwermeiren said the agency was deeply concerned by the attack and the implications it could have on its ability to provide vital water and sanitation work.
Oxfam is providing water and sanitation to more than 11,000 people in Kerfi – those who have been internally displaced and also host communities. The agency has been forced to stop activities because of the insecurity and fears that suspension of activities is putting lives of vulnerable populations at risk. Water supplies are already scarce and only five hand-pumps are still running.
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Advocacy Coordinator Brendan Ross said that the poorest and most vulnerable will suffer the most as a result of the recent fighting.
“Insecurity remains a constant problem in Chad, and the Government of Chad should work to end the violence which permeates the east of the country. The international community must increase its efforts to forward the peace process," Mr Ross said.
Oxfam urged local authorities to restore peace and to allow humanitarian workers to resume life-saving operations, essential for people whose lives have been affected by violence.
For further information please contact:
Judith Enriquez-Sarano (Chad) +235 697 09 64, jsarano@oxfam.org.uk
Melany Markham (Australia) +61 407 515 559, melanym@oxfam.org.au