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Aid Agency says Fighting in Chad Could Spiral into Humanitarian Crisis

Contact: Rachel Wolff, World Vision, 253-394-2214 cell, rwolff@worldvision.org


DAKAR, Senegal, February 3 /Christian Newswire/ -- Amid reports that people are trying to flee the country, World Vision staff in Chad fear the situation could turn from a political crisis to a humanitarian disaster if fighting does not stop soon.


"We did not expect things to happen this quickly. I fear that the entire capital could be destroyed. There is already much human and economic damage. Many civilians have been killed," said Levourne Passiri, World Vision's national director in Chad, from N'Djamena.


Rebel attacks, which are now centered on the presidential palace, have forced international aid agency World Vision to move staff and their families to safe houses and to close its office in the capital.


"I live about 20 km from the presidential palace, and we can hear the fighting all the time. Soldiers are circulating around the city," reported Passiri, before he and his family were forced to move to a safer location.


"At this point the roads are blocked so we have no possibility of leaving the city. Security at the moment is very difficult," continued Passiri, who reported that the World Vision office in the capital had been attacked, but that all staff members are safe for the moment. The agency's programs in the central and southern parts of the country have also been disrupted as security concerns have forced staff members to restrict their movements.


It is feared that a humanitarian crisis could result if a negotiated ceasefire or a mediated transition of power are not achieved soon, as this could trigger factional fighting that would displace civilians.


Notes to Editor:

  • World Vision has nearly 250 staff in country; nearly all are citizens of Chad. The agency's two expatriate staff were not in Chad when the rebel offense began. The aid agency has made contingency plans to evacuate staff to Cameroon, but hopes this will not become necessary.


  • World Vision has worked in Chad since 1985 and currently serves some 400,000 people. Community development programs are located in central and southern Chad, and focus on health and nutrition, education, HIV prevention, water and sanitation, micro loans to poor entrepreneurs, and agricultural improvements to prevent frequent food shortages.


World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Visit www.worldvision.org/press for more information.